One Step At A Time. BPT's Featured Non-Profit: Sole Hope
February 29, 2012 2:00 PM
Recently on Twitter I discovered a new organization called Sole Hope (@SoleHope). Their mission: to create jobs and shoes for those in need.
It all started with this YouTube video (warning: watch this video with a strong stomach) which shows volunteers extracting jiggers from children's feet. Jiggers are small sand fleas that enter bare feet and burrow into the skin. If left untreated they can lead to serious infections, paralysis and even amputation. The worst part, if people wore closed-toed shoes and washed their feet regularly all of this could be avoided.
Asher Collie (founder of Sole Hope) saw the video and it broke her heart. Being a mother herself, she couldn't sit idly by after seeing the pain on the children's faces. She chose to do something about it and in 2010 Asher visited Zambia, Africa to see what could be done.
Upon realizing how real the problem was, she came home and began designing a shoe with a designer friend, Beth Gaffney. Soon Asher realized that not only could she make shoes for the children, but she could also create jobs by teaching villagers how to make the shoes. Sole Hope's vision is "to offer hope to widows, orphans and others within impoverished and forgotten communities around the world by teaching the simple trade of shoemaking that provides jobs and shoes for those in need." Currently, Sole Hope provides much needed shoes and jobs to Ugandans, Zambians and Americans and they continue to grow!
I was lucky enough to be able to interview the founder of the organization, Asher Collie.
How did you get started once you realized you wanted to do something about this?
I founded Sole Hope after seeing a video that rocked my world (it is under the gallery section of our website). After learning about jiggers and other parasites entering through the feet of children without shoes I was completely and utterly disturbed by a problem that was impacting the lives of thousands of children in Africa, and was completely preventable. I began to take actions to design a shoe that could be made by men and women in impoverished villages needing work. Shoes that we could teach them to make and put on the feet of the children in their village.
What are some of your future goals and projects you have for Sole Hope?
We desire to keep growing our program so that we can impact thousands more children this year. We are also working on an adult shoe as well as perfecting the youth shoe that is made in Africa at the moment. We are in a contest right now for a $50K grant, and if we get the funds we will start constructing a building in Zambia so that the workers can have a place to store the shoes that are made by size, until it is time to give them out. It will also be a place to keep their fabric and sewing machines, as well as providing a workspace!
What would you say to those who see major problems in the world, but don't feel like they can do anything about it?
I would tell them to just do something and don't compare yourself to others who are doing something to help major problems in our world. Every organization that is impacting thousands needs help, so at the very least you can find an organization you find great worth in and volunteer, or ask to help them with whatever gifts you naturally have.
As Asher mentioned, Sole Hope is currently involved in a contest to win a $50,000 grant to continue building their mission! They need YOUR help! Vote here once a day to vote for Sole Hope!