By Caroline Moss
Millions of lives were forever changed as COVID-19 spread throughout the world. The vulnerable became even more so as lives were disrupted by a new reality. While some people stayed indoors to stay safe, others found new ways to be part of communities, and many took it upon themselves to help people however they could.
One bright spot of the COVID-19 pandemic comes from Niamey, Niger. After social distancing in the spring of 2020, the Nigerien Association of the Locomotive Disabled (ANHL) knew that they could no longer stand to be apart. For many, the group provides friendship, support, and a chance to create income-generating goods. Fati Boubacar, president of the association of disabled women, said, “This group is more than an association for me. It is my family.” Once the government lifted restrictions, the group of women, who Fati calls her “sisters,” decided to resume meeting and see how they could help during the health crisis.
She proudly stated, “Our masks meet quality standards. They only cost 700 CFA francs ($1.50) and can be reused for several years if properly maintained.” Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have made nearly 33,000 masks from local materials.
By focusing on mask-making, the members have been able to generate income during this uncertain time. Fati and her “sisters” not only sew masks but also participate in awareness-raising workshops on good hygiene practices and learning new skills to live with the virus.
Fati and her “sisters’” efforts have helped mitigate the virus, improve their local economy, and strengthen their community. Their hard work is not only saving lives but also helping Niger be stronger and more resilient.
In the new year, may we all be inspired to help others. Consider donating to Wells Bring Hope to transform lives through safe water.
“Niger: Authorities Ease COVID-19 Restrictions May 12 /Update 6.” GardaWorld, 13 May 2020, www.garda.com/crisis24/news-alerts/341556/niger-authorities-ease-covid-19-restrictions-may-12-update-6.
“Niger: They Fight the Coronavirus in Their Own Way.” World Bank, www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2020/10/02/niger-they-fight-the-coronavirus-in-their-own-way.
World Bank. “Niger: They Fight the Coronavirus in Their Own Way – Niger.” ReliefWeb, 2 Oct. 2020, reliefweb.int/report/niger/niger-they-fight-coronavirus-their-own-way.