Maverick Citizen


Miles for masks: Run, walk or cycle to supply frontline medical staff with PPE across Africa

Miles for masks: Run, walk or cycle to supply frontline medical staff with PPE across Africa
A health worker prepares for work at a mobile NHLS testing lab at a Diepsloot Covid-19 screening and testing site. (Photo: Dino Lloyd)

Recognising the importance of personal protective equipment, a group of organisations have partnered to supply healthcare workers with much-needed face masks by getting people to run, walk or cycle in support.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial for healthcare workers in the fight against Covid-19. Not only does it protect frontline staff from possible infection, but it also protects patients from being infected in cases where healthcare workers unknowingly have the virus.  

However, shortages of PPE, such as masks and face shields, have left doctors, nurses and other frontline workers vulnerable to Covid-19 infection.

In an attempt to help with this shortage, Miltons Matsemela Attorneys, the Cipla Foundation, Operation Smile and new NGO 54asOne, have partnered to raise awareness of the importance of PPE and to supply healthcare workers across Africa with much-needed face masks.

For the past five years, Miltons Matsemela has worked with the Cipla Foundation and David Grier, an adventurer and Cipla Foundation trustee, to raise funds for Operation Smile through the Miles for Smiles fundraiser.

Miles for Smiles facilitates corrective surgery for children born with a cleft lip and palate. However, with surgeons wanting to protect these children from possible Covid-19 infection, Operation Smile has decided to postpone surgeries for now. Efforts have been diverted to the newly created Miles for Masks initiative instead.

The Miles for Masks fundraiser is a 5km virtual race which can be run, walked, or even cycled at your own pace from any location you choose. Entries are R50 per person; there is also a corporate offer for R1,900, which buys you 20 entries and a 54asOne flag. 

With the goal to reimagine and reshape healthcare in Africa, NGO 54asOne is providing corporates who enter with a 1.5m x 0.9m flag to proudly hang in their offices. 

Rogelle Guba, a bond liaison at Miltons Matsemela, says that participants can do whatever they like for 5km on 16 June 2020 at 9am. 

“The idea is to do some exercise to feel that you have done something for this cause, but you are also free to enter and relax on your couch too,” says Guba.

Grier says that the NGOs and companies involved in the project all have a common goal: Helping Africa’s frontline workers. 

“We all agree that at this very moment in time, it’s the frontline staff who need to be protected because they protect us,” says Grier.  

Grier adds that this specific event is to “supply as many masks as possible. All the masks donated and purchased through the fundraising effort will then be handed to Operation Smile who will, through their network, distribute to the neediest of the frontline staff.”

The fundraiser has been gaining traction with entrants from as far away as Dubai, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. 

“It has been spreading. It is amazing to see how many people are taking this up and care about healthcare workers in Africa,” says Grier. DM/MC


"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options