The Haiti Project's Work on Stopping the Spread of COVID
Haiti Projects is a 501(C)(3) corporation based in Boston and Fond des Blancs, Haiti. Its focused initiatives aim to empower women of rural Haiti toward self-sufficiency by providing access to jobs at fair trade wages, education, health care, and avenues for building sustainable community.
Haiti Projects is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization focused on empowering women in rural Haiti. Two years ago we opened Haiti’s first Maker Library. It is not just a library though, it houses our Artisanat cooperative too. It is also where we provide employment, education and vocational training and space for community use. Our clinic provides health and family planning services and, on the side, we have a girls soccer program and beekeeping initiative.
Within two weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak, with authorization from the local police to remain open, HP’s Artisanat immediately pivoted production and, working alongside a group of researchers at MIT on the CO-Mask Project, created a mask proto-type. You can read all about it here! Once the proto-type was approved, our cooperative of women began producing these reusable/washable masks for our own staff and for other local organizations in Haiti.
While the masks are not N95 surgical grade masks, they do provide protection so folks will not spread COVID-19. The masks are made of canvas with a double layer of 100% cotton batiste and a pocket for an additional filter (such as a paper towel or piece of cloth).
HP has been doing the following for the past few weeks:
- Producing masks using strict quality control methods to avoid contamination.
- Educating residents via the local radio station, at our library and on social media.
- Distributing Masks & Educating those in more rural areas using our mobile library and clinic staff to help spread the word out to those in the remote hills of Haiti
- Teaching other NGOs how to make masks.
- Using our clinic to screen patients for COVID-19 and refer to the local hospital if necessary.
Each mask costs approximately $3 to make which includes labor and raw materials. We continue to look for ways to lower those costs to make them affordable for all. We have distributed/sold approximately 400 masks to date and, as of now, can manufacture over 1,100 masks per week.
This pivot in production to manufacture a critical item to help “flatten the curve” also keeps our women employed as we prepare for the economy in Haiti to crash (again). As of this writing, there are 47 positive cases and 3 deaths in Haiti and we are bracing for more. We will continue the struggle of staying ahead of the virus for as long as we can.
To read more on this project and on Haiti Projects, please visit www.haitiprojects.org.