Almost £900 Raised For The Cumbria-Rungwe Community Link With Handmade Tanzanian Fabric Face Masks

By Rachael Grealish

Almost £900 has been raised for the Cumbria-Rungwe Community Link (CRCL) with sales from homemade Tanzanian fabric face masks.

A selection of AfroMasks

COVID-19 hasn’t only hit people in the UK, but had a huge impact globally – charities like the CRCL, which support young people in Tanzania, rely on their ability to fundraise and due to the pandemic couldn’t.

With this in mind a leader of the charity, Mary Kipling, from St Bees, and her daughter decided to make face masks when Mary was forced to self-isolate during the lockdown.

Mary explained: “I reacquainted myself with my old treddle Singer sewing machine when I fell into the ‘self isolating’ category and was going to spend a lot of time, for a long time, at home. 

“I initially volunteered with Cumbria Scrubhub, making the simple things like wash bags for scrubs wearers.”

Mary’s station ready to go

She continued to say the charity ‘had the rug pulled from under our feet’ with the students being unable to fundraise during vital points like over Easter and May Day – as well as their annual student exchange cancelled. 

“CRCL literally had the rug pulled from under our feet,” Mary explained, “All our activities came to an abrupt halt, including our fundraising.

“Our committee has been meeting online, as has been all our communication with our students, who had been looking forward  to their visit to Rungwe. The visit cannot possibly go ahead this July, much to everyone’s disappointment.”

Fast forward and a neighbour who knew Mary was sewing for ScrubHub asked if she was able to make a couple of face mask – something Mary had never done before – so she recruited the help of her daughter who was already making them from her home in Manchester. 

Using a design from Mary learnt how to make the masks – and what better to make masks from than the collection of colourful Tanzanian fabric she’d collected from over a decade with the CRCL journeys.

She said: “So I made the masks out of some beautiful cotton Tanzanian fabric, they made a donation, and of course I gave the donation to CRCL for our Tanzanian projects. 

“The masks were a real hit; they looked good, felt comfortable, and the nurse at the wearer’s first appointment commented on how good they were.”

After this Mary decided a few more and see if people would be willing to purchase them, for a donation to the CRCL.

Soon enough many committee members of the CRCL got on board making the masks and so far they’ve made 150 masks – with 50 still in stock for those interested- and have raised £890.

Although the breaks have been applied for the link students Mary is still thrilled they are able to raise money and play a part helping during the COVID-19 crisis.

“If our AfroMasks help to increase mask wearing, along with all the other measures to prevent Covid-19 transmission, we’ll have played our part in helping us all to get past this pandemic,” Mary added.

The CRCL are asking people to donate £10 per mask, which can be ordered by emailing or through our CRCL – Cumbria Rungwe Community Link facebook Messenger.

Mary added if those purchasing masks are local they can be delivered free, people can also arrange to collect or you even have them posted – as there is even an AfroMask in the post to Holland.