Kibera Residents Show Love & Compassion in the Time of COVID-19

Pato Jamey Masks

Read the story of quick action in providing protective masks by Pato Othieno & Jamey Ponte

The masks you see in the photos came from the actions of House of Friends, Kibera, under our “NoBodyOwnsMe” art project. We had started making some boxer shorts and wallets using Kitenge fabrics some time back. When Pato saw the need for masks in the community to help fight the spread of COVID-19, he thought why not get a template pattern that can work using the scrap material. The materials are available and the skills are here in Kibera to get it done quickly.

Fig. Pato and City Park staff with the washable kitenge masks [Photo: P.Othieno]

With the lockdown, many of the tailors were out of daily work that is so needed for them to feed themselves, their families and help others in the community. Kenyans are comfortable with the kitenge and it is easily washable. By using layers of material, the mask provides some protection, and certainly a mindset change to the bigger picture of personal hygiene & social distancing. Plus the Kenyan government making it a law that you must wear a mask while outside, has greatly increased the demand. We have placed just shy of 1,000 masks in the community to date, with more orders coming in. Our masks have been given out to markets and vulnerable essential workers all over Nairobi and even some shipped to Mombasa.

It just grew with a few trials and community working together to help. Some much needed funds are being earned and community organizations keep asking us to make more. A simple action has grown to something helping many and it very much follows what House of Friends stands for – Vision Yourself for Others! Friends of City Park have helped some City Park staff with acquiring these masks.

Fig. City Park staff trying out the masks [Photo: L.Maina]

Fig. One of the staff members at City Park displaying the mask [Photo: L.Maina]

Pato Othieno & Jamey Ponte

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