Many Nigerians can barely afford to feed themselves each day. Over 82 million Nigerians live on less than $1 a day. Add a pandemic to the mix and those millions of people can barely afford to protect themselves with masks and visors, or practice good hand washing hygiene.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported over 88,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country since February, and over 1, 200 deaths. Despite the increasing figures, many people still cannot afford the luxury of safety.
Research Lead Project SafeUp, Mr. Mayowa Odeyemi, distributing the face masks to the students during assembly
Which is why the songs of glee that broke through the New Dawn Handicapped Home in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Friday, November 27, 2020, were humbling. Bulk packages of PPE had just been delivered to the home by Project SafeUp — a partnership between My World of Bags (MWOB), a bag design and manufacturing company, and the Mastercard Foundation — and the head caretaker could not find the appropriate words to express her gratitude. So, the students began singing and dancing. It was their little way of saying ‘thank you.’
A member of the Project SafeUp team handing over masks to the Principal of Methodist Secondary School Bodija, Ibadan
Across hospitals and schools in South-West Nigeria, there have been similar scenes of gratitude shown towards the Project SafeUp team. The Principal of Bishop Philip Junior Academy, Ibadan, Oyo State, shared a tear-jerking story of students sharing and swapping masks because their parents could not afford to buy a single mask. “With this,” he said, “the students will be able to use clean masks and have an extra one when the need arises.”
A student at Ife City College, Osun State, wearing Project Safeup mask
The initiative intends to produce and distribute 2.5 million items of PPE across Lagos, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti and Oyo States within the next three months. And with the country currently experiencing the second wave of the pandemic, the efforts of initiatives like Project SafeUp are certainly much needed.