Updated: Aug 7, 2020
In response to COVID-19, the Amenuveve Batik Center has shifted much of its operations to creating face masks for their local community. Learn about their experience making and selling masks, as well as the greater impact that the pandemic has had on Woadze Tsatoe community.
The production manager of Amenuveve, Vida Zogli, took the initiative to make face masks at the very beginning of COVID-19’s arrival in Ghana. Vida originally tried to sell the masks in Accra, but too much competition and increasing travel restrictions made this difficult, so now she is just focusing on selling them in the Woadze Tsatoe community and the Volta Region’s capital city of Ho. As for how Vida and the other artisans of Amenuveve are able to make sales in Ho, she explains, “[We go] store to store to showcase the products we have.'' Most of the sales they have been able to make is with local people and at hospitals in Ho. Currently, Vida is also lobbying for the Electoral Commission of Ghana to buy nose masks from her for the workers who will be running the 2020 New Voter Registration happening 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. Accordingly, not only are the masks made in a sustainable way, but they also stand out from other face coverings being sold, as they feature beautiful handmade batik printing.
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 still go to work.
The greater issue lies in the fact that business for Amenuveve is very slow— few people are shopping, the government has heavily restricted markets and stores, and people are afraid of going out. In addition, when the Woadze Tsatoe children were taken out of school because of COVID-19, there was no good alternative to turn to such as online classes due to their minimal access to computers. 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, Amenuveve 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 in the Batik center with one another.
Unfortunately, the masks are currently only available for sale in Ghana, but if you would like to support Amenuveve's effort to sell masks locally, you can kindly donate to our transportation fund.