Tailoring skills to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic
Equipped with sewing machines and UNICEF-supported training, teachers in the White Nile State, Sudan, leverage their tailoring skills to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nadia Muhammad Adam is a teacher with a passion for learning and handicrafts. When the opportunity to pick up tailoring skills through intensive training came, she did not think twice before signing up. Nadia and other teachers who undertook the UNICEF-supported training in the White Nile State, Sudan, were driven by a sense of duty to protect their community from the COVID-19 pandemic. Their newly acquired tailoring skills would be put to good use in the efforts to scale up production of fabric masks for the COVID-19 response.
In 2021, UNICEF launched a collaboration with the Sudanese Coalition for Education for All (SCEFA) to leverage the education sector for the national COVID-19 response in ten states across Sudan.
One of the initiatives made possible through this collaboration was the fabric mask-making training for community members and teachers, such as Nadia, in the White Nile State. In addition to acquiring sewing and knitting skills to produce fabric masks, trainees learned effective preventative measures for COVID-19, equipping them with the necessary tools to raise awareness among their communities.
With another COVID-19 wave hitting the State and a two-week school closure announced in August 2021, teachers had time to undertake the intensive training. “We decided to fully dedicate our time to making face masks that can protect our students and us teachers,” says Nadia. “We also used the profit we made to organize a COVID-19 awareness campaign in our schools.”
Nadia soon began contacting family and friends to donate fabric so that she and her two colleagues, Walaa Ahmed and Omnia Al-Hajj, can produce even more masks. Ultimately, all 800 fabric masks they made were distributed to students at Al-Zahraa Primary School in the State capital, Rabak.
Students were overjoyed to receive their own handmade masks. Through the awareness raising campaign, they were instructed on how to clean their face masks – daily and using soap or detergent in hot water.
News of the fabric-mask initiative reached the State Education Office in Rabak who commissioned Nadia to produce 200 face masks for public employees and teachers.
“None of this work would have been possible without a sewing machine,” says Nadia who believes that schools should receive a sewing machine and similar training to sustainably produce their own affordable, quality face masks. A sewing machine, according to Nadia and other trainees, is an investment that can both increase a school’s income and boost the COVID-19 response. Their successful initiative is a testament to that.