Rwanda: Garment Firms in Campaign to Help Vulnerable People Access Free Facemasks

Passengers queue to board a bus at Nyabugogo Taxi Park in Kigali after the government eased lockdown regulations (file photo).
3 September 2020

We hope to address this challenge by bringing together all private and public sector stakeholders to contribute towards purchasing barrier facemasks and distributing them to the poor

Local garment manufacturers have initiated a campaign dubbed "mask for all" that seeks to provide free facemasks to vulnerable families country-wide.

Beneficiaries of the campaign are households that belong to category one and two of Ubudehe.

According to Swaib Munyawera, the Managing Director of Mask Investment Limited and coordinator of the campaign, the initiative targets over four million people but the number may increase depending on pledges to be made.

Highlighting on where the idea of the campaign came from, Munyawera noted that it came to fill the gap in the fight against Covid-19, caused by not wearing facemasks as a result of how expensive they are to some people.

He said: "Despite measures already in place, we noted that a big part of the population cannot afford to buy facemasks regularly. As a result, many end up sharing or re-using unclean masks, which puts them at risk of contradicting the virus."

"Through this campaign, we hope to address this challenge by bringing together all private and public sector stakeholders to contribute towards purchasing barrier facemasks and distributing them to the poor," he added.

Pledges are made online via a link where one fills in his/her address, and the pledge among other requirements.

According to Munyawera, pledged facemasks will be delivered to district sector offices where community health workers will do free door to door distribution to beneficiaries.

Though some people have already begun making pledges since Tuesday, the official launch of the campaign is expected to take place virtually on Thursday, September 3, and will be done by the manufacturers in partnership with Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

Proper wearing of facemasks is among the primary Covid-19 preventive measures, and adds to other directives such as physical distancing,

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Rwanda, the country has confirmed 4,142 Covid-19 cases of whom 2,044 have already recovered.

Rwanda's Covid-19 death toll currently stands at 16.

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