FEEL GOOD | Ikamva Labantu gogos receive hundreds of handmade masks from local mom

Facebook/Romy Saitowitz
Facebook/Romy Saitowitz

A local mom, Romy Saitowitz, has made 200 cloth face masks on her sewing machine at home - and she's not slowing down.

She hopes to make 500 before the end of South Africa's lockdown, which is tentatively scheduled for the end of April, for the gogos cared for by Ikamva Labantu.

The organisations work focuses on early childhood development, the wellbeing of older persons and afterschool initiatives that keep children safe and off the streets. Meaning “Future of The People”, Ikamva Labantu was launched as a non-governmental and non-profit organisation.

In these tough times, the grandmothers are facing even more hardship, as they care for children on just their pension payout each month. 

Romy shared in a Facebook post that these "special seniors care for thousands of young children who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS". 

She saw it necessary to do her part in the community and help people during these trying times. "I’ve known of the work of Ikamva Labantu for a long time," Romy told Parent24.

"Their founder Helen Lieberman has been a community activist for over 50 years. I heard about their Seniors programme - very few NGOs focus on the needs of Seniors."

"Gogos have a special place in my heart," the working mom explained, adding "my grandmother was a source of unconditional love for me."

Romy, who has been sewing as a hobby for about three years, and says that if anyone wants to help out, they're very welcome to get in touch with Jovana Djeri, Head of Sustainability, on Jovana@ikamva.co.za. 

She shared some behind-the-scenes pics on Facebook:

Romy told us that her worry about seniors is that the little ones they look after may only have a mild response to a Covid-19 infection, but if it gets past on to their Gogos, they will not cope so well.

"Most coronavirus deaths are in the elderly," she told us, "and this is a potential human crisis for SA. How will our children manage if their Gogos fall ill or die? Already children are so vulnerable to abuse, neglect and our Child Welfare Services battle to keep up with the case load."

"I fear for what will happen if we can’t protect these Gogos and the children that they care for ... it keeps me up at night!" she admitted.

Romy says she is trying to make 500 before the end of lockdown. "Ikamva Labantu serve 2000 Seniors! I’ll probably keep going until either I or my machine fall apart!" 

To find out more about what life is like for these brave grandmothers in lockdown, watch the video below (or on Facebook)

"There are many DIY masks that people can make if they don’t know how to sew," Romy says, but this one is very easy: Learn to make a cloth mask - no sewing required!

"The middle filter really helps seniors in the township who can’t really socially isolate as they care for children," she says. 

It's a beautiful gift to make, so why not give it a try?

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