Jumpstarting Global PPE Distribution: Connecting Family Mask to Africa’s At-Risk Communities

On 5 March 2020, the Family Mask team, led by Founder and Chairperson, Ms. Jessie Chung, saw the a live news segment on television wherein South Africa’s Minister of Health, Mr. Zweli Mkhize, confirmed that COVID-19 has spread to the country, with the first known patient being a male citizen who tested positive upon his return from Italy.

Acting swiftly, on 15 March, the President of South Africa, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, declared a national state of disaster and announced measures such as immediate travel restrictions and the closure of schools from 18 March. On 17 March, the National Coronavirus Command Council was established “to lead the nation’s plan to contain the spread and mitigate the negative impact of the coronavirus.” On 23 March, a national lockdown was announced, starting on 26 March 2020.

Family Mask stands in solidarity with our African “family”. Co-Founder Mr. Kenneth Kwok reached out through his World Economic Forum network to the Global Shapers Hub based in Johannesburg, South Africa, with the intention of supporting local efforts in ensuring adequate PPE availability within the most at-risk communities.

Through Jumpstart Media, an initial donation was made to the Johannesburg Hub in April 2020. Mr. Saieshan Govinder from Global Shaper Johannesburg Hub comments:

“A big thank you to Kenneth Kwok and the entire Family Mask team for their generous donation of face masks. This cross-continental partnership has demonstrated the power of collaboration in ensuring that no one is left behind during this pandemic. Together, we were able to make a difference to the lives of so many.”

The first beneficiary of the donation was the Arebaokeng Hospice in Tembisa, where PPE is desperately needed for frontline healthcare workers.

arebaokeng hospital
Mr. Marcello Schermer delivering Family Mask to Arebaokeng Hospice in Tembisa

“It was a real pleasure being able to support our frontline workers who are working tirelessly to keep us safe. We are very grateful for their selfless work and glad that we were able to support them in partnership with Family Mask, United Nations and Jumpstart Media,” says Marcello Schermer, Global Shaper Johannesburg Hub.

The second beneficiary was the Laudium Retirement Home in Pretoria, where the PPE was provided to the doctors and nurses looking after the elderly.

laudium retirement home
Mr. Dhiren Govender visiting Laudium Retirement Home.

“Through this project, we were able to live the African philosophy of Ubuntu, which means “I am, because you are.” The gratitude expressed by the elders who received the masks was heart-warming. They believe that friends from Hong Kong had lent a helping hand to them all the way in South Africa. Thank you to all involved who made this possible. You’ve helped make an impactful difference,” adds Dhiren Govender, Global Shaper Johannesburg Hub.

The third and final beneficiary was the Witkoppen Clinic, which was a joint donation drive in partnership with the Tshwane Global Shapers who distributed sanitary pads on the same day.

“Our Hub is really grateful to be a part of making a difference in under-served areas where people seeking health care are the most vulnerable as the majority receive HIV and TB care services. The Witkoppen Clinic, which we delivered face masks and sanitary pads to, provides health care support as well as social services. We felt it was really important to protect health care workers as they have provided such valuable care. We are excited to have been able to do this in partnership with the Johannesburg Hub, Family Mask and Mediamarks – we truly value collaboration,” says Nontuthuzelo Nikiwe, Global Shaper Tshwane Hub.

In June, Family Mask has initiated a second donation, this time to the Global Shapers Hub based in Abuja, Nigeria. Kenneth and Global Citizen Capital in 2017 carried out an impact investment in the country in the healthcare sector, and it was for him an opportunity to reconnect. The donation was made in response to and in support of Mr. Oscar Onyema, CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, and his #MaskforallNG initiative.

“Family Mask is honored to have the opportunity to support Nigeria and its ongoing healthcare and PPE initiatives,” says Founder Jessie Chung. “We are grateful to the Global Shapers Hub Abuja and their team, including Adetola Onayemi, Queen Nwokonneya, and Jake Okechukwu Effoduh, for facilitating this donation.”

Going forward, Family Mask pledges its continued support to Africa and our family in the beautiful continent.

family mask johannesburg donation
Care Package sent by Jumpstart Team to Global Shapers Abuja.

All images courtesy of Family Mask. 

Top: Jumpstart Media Executive Chairperson James Kwan (L) and Chief Executive Officer Relena Sei (R).