As part of Asiye eTafuleni’s (AeTs) response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of interventions have been initiated which are aimed at helping informal workers to protect themselves from the coronavirus as they return to their workplaces.
One of these interventions is the Geza Izandla (isiZulu for ‘wash your hands’) station. Frequent handwashing is an effective and sustainable way of combating the coronavirus but in informal workplaces, such as Warwick Junction, running water and soap are often hard to come by. Therefore, AeT has designed contextually appropriate portable handwashing stations (one is a stand-alone design and the other is for tabletops) which can be made from affordable and easily accessible materials. AeTs intention is to deploy these wash stations to as many informal workers as possible.
Nokwanda Bixi’s table is situated at a busy taxi pick up and drop off rank its is accessible to taxi drivers passengers as well as pedestrians. Ma Bixi, who was given a tabletop wash station prototype, reported that she uses 4 litres of water per day and “it also attracts more customers. What I like most about the design is the size, it doesn’t take much space and it is easy and more convenient to store”.
Every year, on 18th of July, we celebrate Mandela Day in honour of our country’s first democratically elected president. Nelson Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years and the Mandela Day campaign calls for all South African’s to dedicate at least 67 minutes of their day to making a difference. Mandela Day offers an opportunity to catalyse collective action on projects that are making a positive impact. At AeT, every day is a Mandela Day, however we felt that the deployment of wash stations could be expedited with collective action.
AeT provided the opportunity for anyone with the capacity and the desire to get involved and help AeT get wash stations to informal workers. We are Durban, a Durban-based NGO which aids charities to reach their potential, helped spread the word. An instruction manual for how to make the wash stations was shared on various platforms, as well as a call for monetary or material donations towards the making of the wash stations.
AeT is pleased to share that we had an overwhelming response to this initiative, locally and internationally. We received generous monetary donations and materials to support the building of the handwashing stations. We were also very encouraged to have received 20 ready-made ones! Rebecca Plumbley, a part-time intern at AeT, recovered wood from old furniture when helping her fiancé move home and built 2 handwashing stations (shown below) with her father.
This positive response has enabled AeT to reach the Mandela Day goal of deploying 67 handwashing stations to traders in Warwick Junction. This is just the beginning. Warwick Junction is back to almost full capacity and in order to ensure that informal workers are able to follow the COVID-19 health and safety protocols and keep themselves and their customers safe, frequent handwashing is essential. There is no reason that Warwick Junction (and other informal workplaces) should not be able to operate with the same level of hygiene standards as formal workplaces and the provision of handwashing stations is a step towards the realization of this long-term goal.
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela.
[Feature image: Original tabletop wash station prototype. Photo: Richard Dobson]