In efforts to combat Covid 19 and as well us cushion effects locally, Ndara B Community and the Diaspora Kenyans founding the Diaspora University Town produced and donated over 7,000 masks as one of the many forms of contribution to the Voi local community amid this phase. Interestingly these masks were locally made through a program engineered to impact positively economically as well.
“During a biweekly Diaspora University Town medical hospital developers meeting; Bui Thuo, a Critical/Intensive Care Unit (ICU) who is a registered nurse in California proposed that a way be found for the Ndara B Community to get face masks for Covid 19 prevention,” says Dan Kamau the Diaspora University Town executive trustee and project director.
The following day, Bui gave the first donation and opened the masks production plan. 14 days later, 7,200 Masks were produced through donations of Ksh 396,000 by Diaspora Kenyans and Kenyans. About 4,000 masks, were donated and distributed to members of the Ndara B Community in Taita Taveta County.
Benjamin Mwandaa, the Chairman of Ndara B, who welcomed what is today the ongoing Diaspora University Town project by Ndara B Community, Diaspora and Partners says that Ndara B Community and Diaspora have become one family.
He adds, “It is amazing to see the Diaspora Kenyans who are thousands of miles away make it possible for Ndara B community and Kenyans back home, especially in Voi –Taita Taveta, get masks as a protective measure during the Covid-19 battle”
The Ndara B Community Chairman says that after receiving the good news that the Diaspora would donate cash, he sent the news out to the Ndara B Community. The next day eight tailors were ready to start the production. The donations were started the same day. The production plan was completed the following day. On Tuesday, the fourth day from the date of the proposal, eight tailor’s started producing the masks. The donations and production of masks would run concurrently. The Diaspora and the Community are even today excited at how quickly everything was set up and masks produced.
Production of Masks
The starting pace was slow. Barely 100 masks were produced on the first day of production. The slow speed of production was due to the fact that the tailors were not sewing and their machines were rusted.
After oiling the machines and four days of sewing; the tailors’ pace picked up. By the second week, the average production per person was 50. The number of tailors also increased to 21 and the production units elevated to over 1,000 pieces a day.
14 days from the day the Mask production was started by the Diaspora in the U.S, over 7,200 masks were produced in Voi. This was made possible by the Diaspora cash donations; the 21 dedicated local tailors and their machines; and the local material supplies.
The distribution was spearheaded by Raphael Ngao, the head of security of Ndara B property. He says the most fulfilling part during the distribution was to see each community member get a mask. He and other members of the community distributed the masks concurrently as the production occurs to all families in the community and those in their neighborhoods.
Donations to Police Officers and Healthcare Personnel
Ndara B Chairman, having had a career of 36 years as a police officer, is very cognizant of the key people who are exposed to Coronavirus due to their jobs. The police officers and medical staff. His first donations of the extra masks went to the police officers and the public health personnel. Other donations went to neighboring communities, boda boda riders and anyone who they came across.
Thanking Diaspora and the community, the Chairman acknowledges that the infusion of about Kshs 300,000 into the community through the tailors who worked will continue to benefit the community. This money continues to circulate in the community as the community buys from each other.
He agrees that the best way to input money in a community is through making the Kenyan people productive. He says that the Ndara B community is ready to produce their constitutional rights: food, healthcare, housing, clean water, clean environment, education and other social rights as written in the constitution. The masks produced are classified as part of the healthcare right.
Jackson Keke, the Ndara B Community public relations officer when thanking the Diaspora agrees that the flow of money into the community through the tailors and distribution personnel did not only benefit the tailors; the amount trickled down to small traders and farmers. He adds, “Once the Diaspora University Town project kicks off and jobs created the impact to the community will be tremendous as more people work. This will benefit all in the community.”
Joshua Mwadeghu, an accounting student, learning on how opportunity is created is already finding his role in the Diaspora University Town project through teaming up with other young community members to work on the plans that will lead to the community producing and supplying most of the construction materials.
He says that the production of masks was a great learning experience and the whole process showed them they could, indeed even produce more pieces at great speeds through proper and effective planning and co-ordinations
Covid-19 is certainly changing the way people think. It continues to demonstrate that people can be self-reliant as opposed to waiting for imports. “This small factory is now a big dream for us” says Eva Iringo who was part of the production team. She adds that the next step is to work on the production strategies to be implemented based on what the Chairman said to them that this is the beginning of the Ndara B cloth making factory at the Diaspora University Town.
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