The Mask Makers of Hoedspruit

Sewing photo 1

Rotarians Alan and Hazel Partington sewing face masks.

On 5 April I received this message from Rotarian Alan Partington on my Hoedspruit Rotary WhatsApp “Just opened a sweat shop making face masks” and a response from Rotarian Christine du Preez “I wondered when someone would do that”. It was in fact, Rotary past President Rose White, convalescing from her recent operation, who contacted Hazel and convinced her to start making masks even supplying her with a suitable pattern.

Since then masks have been supplied to the Police, Hoedspruit clinic staff, gardeners in various permaculture projects that Rotary supports, Hlokomela professional nurses who struggle to get surgical masks and many more. Even Tintswalo hospital’s Prof John Gear has been to Rotary to collect 40 masks for their staff. To date more than 350 masks have been produced by the Hoedspruit community.

Wendy van Schoor, a Rotarian toiling away producing masks, commented that these new washable masks would hopefully replace all the disposable masks which are causing so much litter.

When Hazel Partington was quizzed as to  why she and Alan had embarked on this project she said   ”My brother in law, a pathologist in North Wales had three of his colleagues test positive and one is on a ventilator- so I am making these masks with him in mind. And a message from Cecile Bertram, Rotarian David’s wife who contracted the virus en route to Reunion travelling without a mask.   These are worrying times”.

After a call for more fabric for masks, Ole Ahrens, Rotary Hoedspruit President, left the following message for Hazel “If I leave my Rotary shirt that I bought in Hamburg on your doorstep, will you convert it into masks?  It is XXL and should give you some coverage.”    Alan delicately cut these masks to include the Rotary logo which appeared in odd place on the shirt to be positioned critically on the masks so that anyone wearing them will know they come from Rotary.  Ole proudly wears his own special “Rotary Mask”.  Hazel has also made three superman masks for the doctors at Tintswalo.   These designer masks may well become collectors’ items.

The generous people of Hoedspruit have rummaged in their cupboards and found wonderful supplies for making the masks.   Mari Hattingh, a well-known haberdasher, supplied fabric and thread to a number of the mask makers.    I subsequently found out that there are many little sweat shops all over Hoedspruit beavering away making masks.   A neighbour and friend  of mine on Raptor’s View , Will McKechnie , says she saw the call for masks on the Hoedspruit town Facebook and felt she needed to do her bit.  She makes her masks from a pattern obtained on the internet and then posts them in a box at Pick and Pay for distribution.  Rotarian Jill Ovens has been working hard making masks and has roped in husband Phill to make the knots for the string ties.  This mask making enterprise is becoming a real family business. The masks worn by the Police came from 24 Degrees South.

If you go food shopping in Hoedspruit you are bound to  see all the wonderful home crafted masks being worn not only by the professionals who need them in their call to duty but also the citizens of Hoedspruit who are obeying the vital call to mask up.

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It is becoming clear that as lockdown restrictions are lifted, it will become essential for each person to have and use at least one protectie face mask.  Research has shown that even basic home-made masks, not made to medical specifications, give at least five times more protection than without.

Rotary Hoedspruit again heeding the call to serve their community by producing protective face masks and encouraging the community to wear them.

Lovelle Henderson 22 April 2020

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