German International Non-Governmental Organization, Welthungerhilfe (WHH) in collaboration with Lizard Earth, on Thursday 6th and Friday 7th May 2021, trained farmers on soap and cotton face mask making in Madina Community, Jawei Chiefdom in the Kailahun District.
Speaking at the opening of the training on face mask making on Thursday 6th May, Tamba Gbondo, the District Coordinator of WHH’s Covid-19 Fair Trade Emergency Initiative project (SLE 1087), which is funded by GIZ, stated that the six months intervention is geared towards promotion of sustainable growth in the cocoa value chain in Sierra Leone.
He disclosed that the project has an additional component, which is Linking Agriculture, Natural Resources and Nutrition (LANN), which deals with hygiene and sanitation.
“As a farmer, you can never eat good and healthy food without considering hygiene and sanitation, otherwise you will fall ill,” Tamba Gbondo stated, urging the fifteen (15) farming participants to adhere to the health preventive measures in curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The WHH District Coordinator informed that they are working with 1,500 farmers in 33 farming communities across the Kailahun district with an implementing partner called- Lizard Earth.
The face mask and soap making exercise, he explained, is aimed at enabling the farmers to produce them, so as to protect themselves and generate income later.
Hawa Bockarie, the Manager of Linking Agriculture, Natural Resources Management and Nutrition (LANN+) component of SLE 1087 project, stated that under this project, cocoa farmers in the target communities have benefited from several training programmes aimed at boosting production, while also ensuring they protect themselves and family from the covid-19 virus by teaching them to produce cotton face masks and soap for regular hand washing.
“You would be able to produce face mask and soap for yourselves, which you can also sell to accrue income to take care of your families,” she stated. She stressed that her organization stresses on the need for farmers to know the types of nutritious food to prepare for their children and family that will allow them to grow up healthy and strong.
“We don’t want you to travel far away just to buy a face mask, hence the reason for the training to produce them yourselves,” Hawa Bockarie stated.
The Consultant Tailor responsible for training the participants to produce the face masks- Ansu K. Salia, admonished the farmer participants to be attentive and take the process seriously and acquire life skills that will provide protection and income for them at the end.
“WHH is an organization that cares so much about the farmers and communities they work with. Considering this, they decided to provide this training to farming communities in Kono, Kenema and Kailahun to ensure the locals can produce face masks for themselves instead of traveling afar to get one,” Salia explained. He urged the farmers to pass on the knowledge and skills gained to others for the benefit of their communities’ health and safety.
One of the farmer participants, Yatta Martin, noted that the training is very important, as it provides them the opportunity to locally produce face masks and soap, which can be used for preventing coronavirus transmission and engage in regular hand washing, in addition to commercializing same to raise income.
“I want to thank Welthungerhilfe on behalf of other farmers for this good initiative at a critical time when the world and our country is also faced with the threat of covid-19 pandemic,” Yatta Salia said.
A total of seven men and eight women farmers took part in the two-day training exercise, which focused on a step-by-step instructional approach to making the two selected items of local soap and cotton face masks.
For the latter, participants were shown how to first draw up the shape of the face mask, using a pre-shaped card, which they then cut in exact measure with a scissors and then sew by hand, using needle and thread, and later affix the elastic, which is strapped around the ears.
In making the soap, the trainees first measure the palm oil and caustic soda in exact quantities; boil in a pot and mix with water in a big bowl respectively and allow to cool overnight.
The following morning, the boiled palm oil is mixed with the liquid caustic soda and stirred continuously until the mixture starts to stiffen. At this stage, the mixture can stand for some time to further harden, after which it is poured on a wooden table to be rolled up in rounded ball shapes. These are then allowed to further harden up as the final product. The round ball shaped soap can be ground into powder form or used as it is.