By Nancy Whitney
African children will soon receive 140 pairs of size seven shoes thanks to a girls camp sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Shoe kits, including the shoe cutout and soles, were constructed by 160 girls ages 12-18 from North Dallas, Richardson, Garland, Sachse, Wylie and surrounding areas June 10 and 12.
Shoe patterns were provided by the charity, Sole Hope, and were constructed from pieces of discarded denim, the heels were made out of plastic folders. The kits will be shipped to Uganda and turned into shoes by local shoemakers and tailors. Soul Hope not only provides shoes to children in need but also employs Uganda residents in the shoe factory.
According to Carrie McMurdie, public affairs media specialist for the church, as part of the project, the girls learned that the primary purpose of the shoes was to prevent jiggers, a very painful condition caused by chigoe fleas of sub-Sahara Africa which can burrow into the skin of the feet, lay eggs and multiply, damaging tissue and causing infections.
“The victims of jiggers often endure social stigma and shame that can cause them to hide the problem rather than seek help,” McMurdie said. “Although the condition itself is not fatal, the infections and other secondary complications can lead to the loss of toenails, digits and even death.”
McMurdie said the shoes that are being constructed are very durable. “Sole Hope has one story on their blog about a boy who had a severe case of jiggers and his shoes lasted five months,” she said.
Participant Lydia Shumard said she thought it was cool the shoes were for toddlers.
The girls were excited to send shoe kits to Uganda, and many girls have expressed interest in continuing to make kits after they return home, McMurdie said.
Sole Hope is a nonprofit company founded by Dru and Asher Collie. The organization has teamed with Uganda shoemakers to provide African children with shoes. Their core purpose is to effectively put in place preventive methods to combat diseases that enter through the feet and to create a positive physical and spiritual difference in the lives of individuals in impoverished communities.
For more information on Sole Hope or how you can help visit solehope.org.