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Witvlei rural women upcycle old school uniforms to make face masks

Witvlei rural women upcycle old school uniforms to make face masks

A group of ingenious Witvlei women has started a project to recycle old school clothes into face masks. Supported by a local farmer’s wife, the masks now provide a modest cash income to the participating seamstresses.

Project facilitator, Sonja Pack said an increasing number of old school uniforms became available from German learners after the Deutsche Höhere Privatschule in Windhoek changed its official uniform at the beginning of the year. Old school shirts are now converted into face masks that cover both the mouth and nose.

One school shirt is turned into four washable masks, which can also be worn as a buff (balaclava) in winter. Only scissors, no electricity and no sewing machine are needed to produce them. And of course, the skill of the seamstresses makes all the difference.

While the sewing ladies’ children are also at home as part of the lockdown, the opportunity to make masks came as a welcome supplement to their regular incomes. This helps them care for their own children at home.

Pack said they remove the DHPS logo, then the shirt is cut into the required pieces and each mask sewn together individually. That part of the fabric that is not turned into masks, is bundles and sold as waste cloth.

The masks are sold at N$15 a piece and mainly distributed to the residents of Witvlei and the surrounding district. Pack advised that they have an abundance of raw material and would like to hear from any other interested person about ideas for more items that can be made from upcycled school clothes.


About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and she believes education is the greatest equalizer. She received her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in June 2021. . She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.