Women's group responds to COVID-19 challenge

Women's group responds to COVID-19 challenge

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Print this page Email A Friend!

HAVING just concluded its six-week sewing and embroidery skills training for young women, with the next step being to prepare them for the busy tourist season, the St Mary-based Bonnygate Women's Group shifted gear as Jamaica had confirmed its first COVID-19 case.

As the country turned to containment mode, implementing various measures to curtail local spread of the infectious disease which has claimed thousands of lives globally, the heightened restrictions locally and worldwide put the breaks on the flow of tourists, and the women decided to use their needlecraft skills to respond to the ongoing pandemic.

The group, which teaches sewing and embroidery skills to mostly unemployed women and women who are survivors of domestic abuse, has started making cloth face masks that are fitted with charcoal filters.

Since starting production in March, according to a release from Digicel Foundation, the women have created approximately 700 masks and continue to meet their growing demand.

“Our training in hand embroidery, crochet and Hardanger is presently on hold, and individuals are working from home,” explained Shirley Duncan, president of the group. “A number of women have found new initiatives – one woman, [Melissa Wisdom-Douglas], started making masks.”

According to Wisdom-Douglas, who began making the masks at home with her mother, Michelle Martin-Brown, she wanted to ensure people have some amount of protection.

“The masks are designed with a charcoal filter layer. We can't go wrong with activated charcoal,” she is quoted as saying in the release.

The charcoal filter layer is intended to absorb contaminants from the air, the release said.

“The mask works both ways. If you are infected with a virus, your exhaled air will be filtered, and the process repeats itself when you inhale,” said Wisdom-Douglas as she shared her research. “We've also doubled the masks with a cotton material that is very breathable but tightly woven for maximum protection.”

With cases of COVID-19 on the rise, the Bonnygate Women's Group is looking to retool and share more designs for personal protective garments.

“It's not and cannot be same old, same old. Some of the opportunities will be volunteer-based but in times like these, those who can should,” said Duncan, who played an integral role in organising the most recent training for the women.

The group received the Digicel Foundation 15th Anniversary Grant in 2019 to expand its training capacity.

“We're grateful to the Digicel Foundation for their sponsorship and continue to stay connected with them as we innovate,” Duncan said.

If interested in purchasing masks from the Bonnygate Women's Group, they can be contacted at 876-329-1047.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaper-login




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon