Through Nedbank’s ‘Local Hero Programme’, the IKusasaLethu team in KwaZulu-Natal, has been able to donate urgently needed facemasks to four community schools in the Valley of 1000 Hills, just outside Durban.
Nedbank’s ‘Local Hero Programme’ strives to create platforms that enable employees to make a difference in society by volunteering their time and giving back to the community. Mr Lancelot Mhlongo, Nedbank KwaZulu-Natal Regional Manager: Retail and Business Banking, is the ‘Local Hero’ who has teamed up with the IKusasaLethu Lifeskills Programme team, to provide facemasks during the Covid-19 pandemic, to school children in vulnerable communities.
According to the IKusasaLethu management team, “This project has been very exciting and rewarding – not only for the Nedbank Local Hero Programme and IKusasaLethu – but also for the ladies in the communities who sewed the masks and for the four community schools in the Valley of 1000 Hills.
“The FT3 DIY facemask project was launched earlier this year by Fibertex (a local manufacturer of nonwoven materials) to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus. As part of our commitment to assisting those in need, IKusasaLethu joined forces with the Fibertex FT3 team and another NGO, Lessons in Conservation, to supply DIY facemask kits to vulnerable communities and schools.
“FT3 fabric DIY facemask packs comprise every component required to make over 50 3-ply washable, reusable and durable masks for children and adults. Through this initiative, we are not only assisting needy people through the supply of essential facemasks, but we are also encouraging communities to generate some income from within their own homes, by sewing urgently needed masks. Nedbank’s contribution to this project enabled us to pay the ladies – many of whom are the sole-bread winners in their families – for sewing these facemasks.”
FT3 facemask kits consist of three layers of chemical-free fabric, elastic and cotton, complete with two spare filters per mask. Each pack is supplied with a pattern, that even those who are unfamiliar with a needle and thread can follow and those without a sewing machine can easily manage.
What’s important at this time – when social distancing is so critical – is there is no need to go to different shops in search of all the required facemask components. Everything that’s needed is already in the pack, including a ready-made sample mask.
The three layers of Fibertex materials that are used to make up FT3 facemasks are 100% locally produced at the Fibertex KZN plant, in line with strict quality and health standards, including the requirements of the South African Health Department. All fabric has also been subjected to stringent testing by local authorities and independently evaluated at a leading South African University, with outstanding performance results.
Fibertex recruited the services of a local pharmacist – who not only has extensive experience in TB and HIV research but is also familiar with clothing design and manufacture – to develop FT3 facemasks. Critical factors considered in the design included maximum protection, durability and comfort, as well as no irritation to sensitive skin. It is also important that masks maintain their shape over time so that people can breathe easily during extended periods of wear.
The use of facemasks should not be considered a replacement for other recommended precautionary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. Still, it must be used in conjunction with further preventative measures, including regular hand-washing and social distancing.
Support from businesses, schools, churches and families is urgently needed to help make this project possible. Please contact Jean Meikle-Braes (+27 82 442 9509) of IKusasaLethu or contact Jessica Sahadew, Senior Customer Service, Fibertex South Africa (+27 72 756 5713).