The lack of knowledge about jiggers and other foot born illnesses that enter the body from not wearing closed toe shoes. Jiggers are a form of sand flea that burrow under the skin usually entering the body through the feet. They breed under the skin until they infest an entire foot causing excruciating pain and often amputation of toes and sometime feet. The only way to remove jiggers is to cut the feet and pick them out using glass or a sharp instrument. A lot of times this instrument is shared among several people which further perpetuates the spread of desease... even AIDS. Jiggers cause children to miss school, be in pain, and rob them of the joy of childhood. This can all be prevented by wearing closed toe shoes and taking care of the feet.
Dru Collie Executive Director
Tell Us about Sole Hope.
My wife and I were in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. My wife Asher was very active in learning everything she could about African children and any possible complications. She came across a video of children having jiggers removed from their feet. The visuals were overwhelming. Parents holding their children down as they were cut and dug on by sharp instruments. Asher thought about our own children and how she would feel if they had jigger infested feet. If there were people on the other side of the world who knew about this and could help, but simply closed the website and walked away. She was convicted that she could do something about this.
Sole Hope started with the desire to put shoes on children's feet. We started in a very common sense way of thinking we will collect as many used shoes as we can and ship them over to solve the problem. We quickly learned that this was not the path for Sole Hope for several reasons. Throughout the next months Asher brainstormed how to make an impact. She came up with the idea of people in the country without jobs or income could make the shoes and those shoes would be given to the children. With no formal training Asher designed a shoe that could be made by hand and with the materials that are readily available in the countries we would be working. Early in 2011 Asher and three colleagues traveled to Uganda and Zambia to beging the process of teaching the trade of shoemaking. Sole Hope was able to purchase sewing machines and all of the materials they would need in the villages to start making shoes. They taught shoemaking classes to adults, washed feet, and taught children about the importance of caring for their feet and general hygiene. Later on a trip in the summer I witnessed hundreds of pairs of finished shoes. I was able to be there to pay the workers, set up bank accounts for them, and distribute hundreds of pairs of shoes to children in that village.
Why do you think people should care about this?
We care about ourselves and we are supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves. I would not want jiggers in my children's feet or my own. I think it's a horrific and simple problem to solve.
What would you say has been Sole Hope's greatest accomplishment to date?
Setting up two programs in Africa, distributing nearly 1000 pairs of handmade shoes and paying the people who made the shoes a fair wage.
What are some projects or initiatives Sole Hope is currently involved with?
Educating Americans about jiggers and educating Africans about the importance of foot hygiene and wearing closed toe shoes. Teaching the trade of shoemaking to widows and others in impoverished and forgotten communities. Giving shoes to children who have none.
Hosting shoe cutting parties. These are happening all over the United States. We send you the patterns and instructions; you gather your friends and fabric and simply cut the shoe uppers. These uppers are pinned together and taken to Africa to be made into a finished shoe by an African worker. The domino movement comes as these parties spread and attendees become party hosts for many other shoe cutting events. ----> Spread the word via Facebook & Twitter ----->Get the word out!!
What is the best part about working at Sole Hope?
The best part so far has been seeing the life in the eyes of the Sole Hope workers and the pride they showed for what they had accomplished. I really had the sense that we gave them hope in a circumstance where hope is very hard to hold on to.
What is the best part about life?That's a great question! I think the best thing about life is the love of God, of my family, and of my friends.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Please peruse the website for more details, facts, and stories! Another great resource is Docica Magazine. They featured Asher on the cover all four weeks of May http://www.docica.com/past-issues/