Community mask production initiative

09/04/2020

Do you have sewing skills and want to play your part in the broader societal fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic? 

Then be part of Nelson Mandela University’s Community Mask Development Project, driven by the Faculty of Humanities.

As part of Nelson Mandela University’s contribution to the broader societal fight against the virus, staff and students across the various faculties and disciplines are working in their respective corners to meet some of the more urgent needs, while also planning for any others that may arise in the longer term.

This includes the work of those in the faculties of Humanities; Science; Health Sciences; and Engineering, Built Environment and Technology, who are working on a local movement to join the national and international campaign on producing and distributing non-medical masks.

With one of the ways of spreading the virus being droplet transmission, masks are critical to efforts to curb the spread of the virus. The consistent use of masks, coupled with social distancing, have greatly contributed to preventing the continued spread of the virus in Asian countries, resulting in the effective management of the virus.

The University’s Faculty of Humanities has mobilised a team of fashion and communication designers from the institution’s departments of Fashion and Textile Design and Media and Communication towards the development of designs for some much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE).

The fashion design team, led by lecturers Raquel Adriaan and Tyrone James, has started on the development and reverse engineering of patterns and prototypes for medical scrubs, gowns, aprons and booties, in anticipation of the need to facilitate the local production of urgently needed protective clothing supplies (PPE’s) for medical teams.

This will go towards the exciting community project, inspired by the #Masks4all initiative and other global mask-producing movements, which will see local cut, make and trim establishments, garment manufacturers and designers working on the mass production of the equipment.

“We need to facilitate collaborations between industry and the health authorities to determine the numbers of items needed, fabric type and fabric sources in order to develop an effective roll-out plan,” says Acting Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Prof Mary Duker.

 “The University, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, decided to start a Community Mask Development Project that we are front lining.

“We came up with eight different test masks that we have engineered to fit snuggly and also act as a barrier, and have decided on two designs for the final proposal,” says Raquel who, along with fellow lecturer, Tyrone, have been working at the textile design studio on Second Avenue Campus.

She says they have kept the pattern as simple as possible, to ensure anybody who is making the mask, whether at home or at work, can do so easily.

This work feeds into the University’s recently established COVID-19 Coordinating Committee (CCC), which is synchronising the institution’s contribution to the fight against the virus at a local, provincial and even national level.

Tyrone James and Raquel Adriaan of the Dpeartment of Fashion & Textile Design