Masks for All: A Call to Action

Guest post from Jackie May of Twyg.

During lockdown, we are allowed to leave our homes for essentials such as groceries, grant collections, buying medication etc – and much-needed exercise. But, when you leave home, you have to wear a mask! 

CBD CAN has launched a mask drive to help us help everyone wear a mask. Through your donations we’re also able to support small businesses who are making masks. For our next Pub Quiz, we've joined forces with a number of CAN's across Cape Town and proceeds will go towards making masks.  



Many vulnerable communities in Cape Town are not able to access or afford masks. In Khayelitsha, there are a lot of elderly people who are moving around in the streets without masks. “They resort to using their head scarfs as masks,” says Buhle Booi from our sister CAN in Khayelitsha.

At the start of the pandemic government (and the World Health Organisation) did not recommend that the general population wears masks. After debates informed by a growing number of experts and virologists, the general opinion swayed in favour of masks. Then the Western Cape Department of Health released a statement encouraging the use of masks at the beginning of April with the national minister of health Zweli Mkhize confirming: “There is no question that the use of masks is one of the best ways of preventing the spread of infection.”

Through the generous donations of sustainable accessories and fashion brand Ballo and of our community, we have already distributed almost 1000 masks to shelters, soup kitchens and to elderly and vulnerable people in Khayelitsha. 

But after President Cyril Ramaphosa made it mandatory to wear a mask from 1 May, we are focussing our fundraising on masks. 



Buhle says that in Khayelitsha malls people are selling masks for R30 but elderly people cannot afford this. “They are having to decide whether to buy bread or the mask. And, because they need to wear a mask in order to access some stores, they are often choosing to buy masks for themselves and their kids instead of bread with their grant money.”  

There is also the added problem of social distancing. Buhle says that the Khayelitsha CAN is having to intervene at malls because people are struggling to adhere to social distancing and most people in queues are not wearing protective wear. 

With our Give to Make mask drive, we’re asking for donations to help support small businesses who make masks which will then be distributed through our sister CAN in Khayelitsha to people who need them. 

And, for a night of fun and fundraising sign up for our Pub Quiz on Monday 11 May! 

For more information about how to use and take care of masks read here are the Western Cape Government’s guidelines:

How to properly use a cloth mask

The usage of any type of mask should be accompanied by strictly adhering to safe use guidelines. Wash your hands before applying and after removing a mask, never touch the cloth part, never fiddle with it whilst wearing, refrain from touching your face. Discard disposable masks. Wash cloth masks with warm soapy water and iron when dry.

It is very important that residents use a cloth mask properly. If they do not, it might result in them putting themselves at risk of spreading Covid-19. The simple guidelines to use are:

  • Only use a mask that has been cleaned & ironed
  • Place the mask with the correct side facing your nose and mouth and covering both well
  • Tie the strings behind your head, or if you are using elastic bands, make sure these are tight
  • Make sure it fits well. Move it around to get the best fit. Never touch the cloth part.
  • Once you have put on the mask, DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE again until you take it off
  • When you take it off, undo the ties, and carefully fold the mask inside out, hold it by the strings/elastic and place the mask in a container preserved for washing the cloth mask.
  • Wash hands thoroughly and dry before doing anything else

How to maintain the mask

  • You must have at least two cloth masks per person so you will be able to wash one and have a clean one ready for use.
  • Wash the mask daily in soap and hot water (tolerated during hand wash).
  • Rinse thoroughly and dry
  • IRON THE MASK- this is the best means of disinfection


Photos by Nicky Newman, Buhle Neo and Zacharia Mashele