In response to Covid-19, the Batik Center has shifted much of its operations to creating face masks for the local community. Learn about the artisans' experience making and selling masks, as well as how Woaze Tsatoe has been impacted by the pandemic.
Making face masks
Woadze Tsatoe's artisans took the initiative to make and sell face masks immediately following Covid-19’s arrival in Ghana. Vida Zogli, manager of the Batik Center, originally tried to sell the masks in Accra but, due to increasing competition and travel restrictions, she has since focused her customer search on the Volta Region’s capital of Ho. There, Vida explains that she goes "store to store to showcase the products [they] have." Most of the sales that she has made are at hospitals in the city, as well as among residents of the Woadze Tsatoe community. Currently, Vida is also lobbying for the Electoral Commission of Ghana to buy masks from her for the workers who will be running the 2020 New Voter Registration, which will take place this summer.
One highlight of the mask making process at Amenuveve is that they have been able to up-cycle their fabric scraps from other products to create the masks. Thus, the masks not only are made in a sustainable way but also stand out from other face coverings that are offered because they feature beautiful handmade batik prints.
Members of the community sporting their batik face masks
Life in Woadze Tsatoe
As the number of cases rise in Accra, the Ghanaian president has issued strict penalties, from high fines to years in prison, for not wearing masks in public. However, Vida recounts that many people are still not wearing masks— some are asthmatic patients who struggle when wearing face masks, but others simply “are not taking it seriously,” especially in more rural areas. Thankfully, however, the Volta Region has not been hit as hard by Covid-19 and few people are sick. Since the main jobs in the Woadze Tsatoe village are fishing, farming, and working at the Batik center, most people can maintain their livelihoods.
The greatest concern lies in the fact that business for the Batik Center has been slow— few people are shopping, the government has heavily restricted markets and stores, and people are afraid to go out. In addition, the Woadze Tsatoe children have been taken out of school because of Covid-19, and they can not utilize an alternative such as online classes due to limited computer access. Whether or not school can resume in September remains uncertain, as the number of cases in Accra continues to rise.
However, like much of the world that is trying to grapple with a new normal in the time of Covid-19, the Batik Center is still in business, trying their best to produce handmade batik products for their customers to enjoy. Outside of the center, most of the artisan workers are still able to engage in their favorite activities of farming and fishing, but take the most pride in the beautiful work that they create together in the Batik center.
This piece was written by intern, Shefali Tamasker, and edited by Denalia Zhi.