In July 2017, I started collecting worn shoes through my shops, SoleLution, in Clifton Village and Portishead, to help 2 charities - Educate the Kids and Za Foundation - both helping children to a better future in Africa. We have many customers whose children grow out of their shoes before they wear them out and I wanted to give them the option to recycle them, but know where those shoes were going and who they were helping. When I was offered the opportunity to go and visit the Jolaurabi School near Mombasa, Kenya in January 2018 and help fit the shoes we had collected, I jumped at the chance. It was going to be a trip of a lifetime - a one off! How naïve was I! I fell in love with the children and their families. They have nothing but are so welcoming, loving and so very grateful for every opportunity they are given. The teachers at the school who care passionately about providing these children with their education. And the other volunteers I have been lucky to meet who give their time and their money to make a difference. I want to be able to continue to help them year on year.
In 2018, we fitted over 300 pairs of shoes which was a massive achievement, but there are about 800 pupils in the school so most went without on that trip.. My hope was that I would return and give each and every pupil a "new" pair of shoes. That would mean collecting more shoes from our customers, recruiting volunteers to help fly the shoes over and fitting them when we got there. In 2019 we succeeded and again in 2020, as COVID kindly came after we had returned from Kenya in January.
It is now a very uncertain time and we are not sure when we will be allowed to travel again. We are still collecting shoes and hoping that later this year we will be able to travel and take out our much needed shoes.
In the meantime, they are suffering more than I can imagine - with government curfews, no tourist industry to support the economy, no free health care, no furlough payments, no universal credit - they have to survive as best they can. Educate the Kids have been raising money for food parcels for both pupils at the schools and also families in most need in the surrounding villages. Any little thing we can do to help is so very much appreciated.
Thank you x
- Natalie Ahmadi-Ganj
- Richard Westaway
- Roberta George
- Tracy Hurst
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more