Production of face Masks, a ray of hope for refugee women

 Uganda
 Economic DevelopmentEmergency Response,
 19th Jun 2020

Photo: Golden star women actively participating in making face masks in village 13 zone 3 (photo: Auma Betty)

Since the outbreak of coronavirus and consequential lockdown, many businesses came to a standstill with a gross effect on the vulnerable communities. Fortunately, for Golden star women tailoring group located in Bidibidi settlement zone, village 13 in Yumbe District, all has not been lost. Their story is a true reflection of the old adage; every dark cloud has a silver lining thanks to CARE International in Uganda with support from UN Women.

With COVID-19 social behavioral changes that include regular handwashing with soap, social distancing and face mask wearing, the group seized an opportunity to not only eke a living and improve their livelihoods during this pandemic but also support the prevention of COVID-19 in their community by producing face masks.

Photo: Rose Kiden Wani left her tailoring business to support in the group fight against COVID-19

“My name is Rose Kiden Wani, I am 39 years old married woman with five children, I really thank CARE International and UN WOMEN for bringing for us these tailoring machines which are now helping us; before I used to tailor my clothes and sell because there was market but when coronavirus came, all markets were closed, people lost money and even my savings in the VSLA reduced.  I decided to come and work with my group members to produce masks for our community to help prevent the spread of coronavirus in our community and also make some money to improve our wellbeing during and after coronavirus pandemic,” said Rose.

Golden star women tailoring group Face Masks has been approved and assigned by UNHCR with a business opportunity to produce more mask to protect the lives of South Sudanese refugees in Bidibidi Settlement Yumbe district.

Photo: Lika Harriet previously working as a teacher and a business woman, supporting her group in mask production

The group comprises of 30 South Sudanese refugee women who started as a VSLA group in 2018 and expanded into a bigger business of tailoring in 2020 with support from CARE International under the AWEAR project funded by UN WOMEN. These women were supported with 15 sewing machines and material to help them generate income for their economic empowerment. Initially, these women were actively engaged in VSLA activities with various individual small scale businesses like buying and selling produce, making pancakes, tailoring, vegetable selling and many others. Others are famers who earn from farm work and casual work.

“My name is Kiden Charity, am 28 years old and I am married with four children and living in village 13 zones 3, We thank CARE and UN WOMEN so much for this big support. When I stopped making Koboyo (pancakes), I was so stressed but am happy now am saving lives in my community, people here cannot go to Yumbe town to buy masks so my participation in this activities makes me very happy that I can protect my people from COVID-19 and also generate some money as a group which will help our household in the future” Kiden said

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