Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sole Hope

Hi Friends! We are on Spring break this week and loving it!  Trees are starting to come alive with new leaves and even some blossoms. I love spring because it's like all of nature is coming back to life. It's so exciting to see something new. Along those lines, I have discovered something new (well, new to me). It's an organization called Sole Hope. They are based in Jinja Uganda and they are helping to solve a unique problem. Several years ago a couple read about how many people in Africa are infected by jiggers, a sand flea that burrows into toes and the webbing between them, and then lays thousands of eggs. These fleas in the feet are very painful and and lead to other diseases. They looked at all the angles of solving the problem and then created Sole Hope. They bring in people who have jiggers (or travel to them), and clean their feet, remove the jiggers, and provide education about how to keep from getting them. Then each person is given a new pair of shoes as well as a foot care kit, and finally their house and property is sprayed with a pesticide that kills the jiggers to eradicate them and keep everyone healthy. Watch their video here for a peek into what they do!


One of my favorite parts about the organization is that they employ local shoe makers to make the shoes that they distribute. I read once about how some well-meaning shoe companies had actually hurt communities by giving everyone a pair of shoes, putting the local cobblers out of business and causing them to have to move elsewhere for work. Then when those shoes had been worn though there was no where to get shoes. I love this more sustainable approach. Best of all, they invite people like you and I to be a part of this process. The shoes are all made out of recycled blue jean or denim. In order to make shipping as efficient as possible, Sole Hope asks groups in the U.S. to get together and have a "Shoe Cutting Party." Last week we had a cutting party and it was fun and easy! We gathered up our old jeans that have been waiting for a project such as this. The fronts of these pants are pretty worn,


but the backs are still in great shape, perfect for cutting out shoe pieces! If you don't have jeans, you can also just buy a few XL pairs at the thrift store. 


So we rounded up our jeans, 


ordered a party pack with the patterns and instructions (order a cutting party here), and invited friends to come over and trace and cut. 


For each pair ten pieces get cut out of denim


and two pieces get cut out of plastic milk jugs, as heel supports.


Then all those pieces get pinned together and labeled,


and put into packs of 10 in a gallon size bag. Everyone that comes is asked to bring just $10 help cover the cost of paying the shoe makers in Uganda, and shipping the materials. Best $10 you'll spend!


When you see how much trash there is just between all the seams, buttons and pockets, you realize how efficient it really is to cut them here and ship only the needed pieces. We saved the pockets for a later project...stay tuned :)


I have already planned a second cutting party, and I'm thinking this will be something we do on a regular basis.  I love their awesome holistic model. Check out Sole Hope's website here. 

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