Teaching Girls to Sew Face Masks in the Midst of COVID-19

By Grace Marfo – Teen Girls Club Program Officer

The Teen Girls Club making masks!

Self-Help International’s Teen Girls Club started in the Ashanti Region of Ghana in 2016 with the purpose of empowering young girls to get a senior high school and college education and to be economically independent in the future. Teen Girls Club members receive academic support from Self-Help, and Self-Help staff work with the girls’ teachers to help the teachers organise extra classes after school for the girls. Sometimes, Self-Help helps supply academic materials they may not be able to access. Self-Help also teaches the girls hands-on skills that will equip them to have more opportunities in their future education or careers.

As part of the skills training, Self-Help staff taught Teen Girls Club how to use needles and thread to do embroidery. Girls are able to use these embroidery skills to mend their uniforms and clothing with minor rips or tears, extending the life of their clothes.

In March 2020, Teen Girls Club members were suddenly faced with another relevant and important way to put their embroidery skills to use: sewing face masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In an effort to address the spread of COVID-19 through community transmission, the government in Ghana put in place various safety measures throughout many areas of the country. Travel is limited, group meetings are restricted, and face masks are required when in public. Self-Help, in keeping with its mission to help people to help themselves, worked with the girls to identify skills they already possessed that could help keep them and their families safe.

The Teen Girls Club coordinators worked with the girls to sew their own masks, using the embroidery skills they had previously learned. The pattern was provided by a seamstress named Sarah, a small business owner in Self-Help’s micro-credit program. Sarah also provided face masks for Self-Help staff to wear. Read all about how Sarah started sewing face masks here.

For Self-Help staff, it was amazing to see the girls in smaller groups practicing social distancing and seriously using their needles and thread to sew their own nose masks. The girls in the club are very grateful to Self-Help because, in spite of the pandemic, they have learned new skills while making face masks. They are now able to make one for themselves, their friends, and their family members.

In addition to making the face masks, Self-Help staff taught the girls proper hand-washing techniques and advised the girls to maintain social distancing based on recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ghana Health Service.

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