Visit Knysna, the Destination Marketing Organisation for the greater Knysna has embarked on a campaign to remind people to “mask up” in order to saves lives. This has been done through 3 000 locally made, high-quality, professional fit, re-usable facemasks bearing messages, “protect yourself”, “protect your family”, “protect your friends”, protect your community”, and “protect your town”.
The ‘Masks with Meaning’ project was managed as a skills development initiative with out-of-work seamstresses being trained in mask manufacturing and compensated for their efforts. The need to wear face masks will exist for some time, affording these seamstresses the opportunity for a new revenue stream well into the future.
“When we went into lock-down, we repurposed our Visit Knysna budget to accommodate initiatives to benefit our communities. Masks with Meaning and our local tourist guides virtual tours have been very successful activations during this time, from a community support as well as promotional opportunity perspective", said General manager of Visit Knysna, Colleen Durant.
The brightly coloured, full-fit masks have been manufactured in three sizes (small, medium, large) under the experienced stewardship of Trendi Masks. This rare COVID-19 success story was established early in South Africa’s virus outbreak by local entrepreneur Penny van As as a source of income for “no work, no pay” seamstresses. In the 3 months since the business was started, Trendi Masks has created seven new jobs, applying a “learn as you earn” approach. A further four local SMEs have shared in their success through fabric supply, laser cutting and branding services. The result has been a range of masks handmade with love, joy and pride, each one a symbol of hope triumphing over fear.
Throughout the month of October, over 2 000 ‘Masks with Meaning’ were distributed by local NGOs and the Knysna Taxi association to those communities most in need, across greater Knysna. These communities include White Location, Concordia, Karatara, Smutsville, and many others.
Today, Executive Mayor Ricky van Aswegen and Counsellor Mncendisi Skosana joined Colleen Durant of Visit Knysna at Magdalene’s Creche to help in the distribution of the final run of masks to the residents of Concordia at the soup kitchen here.
Knysna’s Executive Mayor, Ricky van Aswegen said: “There is no denying that 2020 has been a difficult year filled with loss and despondency, however in true Knysna spirit we kept showing up to play our part. In the midst of this pandemic there is still some positivity and that is why I’m behind this initiative. I hope the masks with meaning reach those who need the encouragement. Please continue adhering to the lockdown rules and regulations. Remember wearing a face mask is a must, wash your hands and practise social distancing.”
Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris concluded: “Innovative campaigns such as these are very critical in reminding people about the importance of having and wearing facemasks whenever social distancing cannot be practised, and it is exciting to see Visit Knysna doing their part to support the country’s effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.”