The Gulu Disabled Persons Union in Uganda (GDPU) and The Advocacy Project are seeking $3,500 to invest in 5 tailors with a disability who make face-masks in Gulu. The team is run by Mama Cave (top photo, right) who has developed her own special brand, known as Mama Masks. The masks have sold well during the pandemic. Helped by Peace Fellow Wilson from the US, GDPU hopes to sell another 2,500 Mama Masks, helping Ugandans to stay healthy and earning money for hand-pressed families with disability.
The COVID-19 pandemic threatens the health of Ugandans while devastating the economy. Desperate to stop the virus while opening up for travel, the government requires masks to be worn in public. But the masks are not available. Foreign masks are thought to spread the virus and a designated company has failed to meet targets. Meanwhile, families with a disability - who account for 14% of the population - find it harder than others to move freely, practice their informal work, and earn a living.
GDPU's response draws on the skills of Mama Cave, an experienced tailor and long-time member of GDPU. AP and GDPU have already invested $1,000 to help Mama Cave's team to develop their brand of quality masks. "Mama Masks" have caught on in Gulu and attracted several contracts from NGOs and stores. Based on this we are seeking another $2,000 to help Mama Cave produce another 2,500 masks by end 2020. The tailors are taking a modest stipend and plan to invest all profits in their growing business.
Mama Masks will only meet a tiny part of Uganda's need for masks, but every mask worn sets an example for others. The impact on other disabled entrepreneurs with a disability will also be huge. Disabled people who work in the informal sector are rarely viewed as essential. GDPU hopes that Mama Masks will change this, and encourage other talented entrepreneurs. Mama Cave has already inspired other disabled entrepreneurs to launch another start-up to produce ("Clean Wash) soap.