Shoe Aid for Africa – UK Families Making a Difference

The collection for the 2008/9 Shoe Aid for Africa campaign took place last October and finished poignantly on Child Poverty Day – Friday 17th October. Children and families across the UK rallied together to donate their unwanted shoes in a bid to change another child’s life, in Africa.

Shoe care experts Kiwi launched the campaign to give UK families a chance to change lives in Africa. Children’s shoes from the UK, which would otherwise have been thrown away, will be cherished by children who have never known the luxury of owning a pair. This first pair of shoes gives these children enormous self-esteem and pride.

A selection of schools, Sure Start centres as well as Scout groups across the country kindly donated over 20,000 pair of shoes to the cause last year. Kiwi representatives spent time in UK schools talking to children about the shoes they donated and how they felt about helping a child in Africa. The children wrote letters to accompany the shoes wishing the children in Africa happiness and describing life in England.

Here is an example of one of the letters that were written

Andy from Cippenham Primary School, Slough

Hello my name is Andy and I am 9 years old. The shoes I have donated are the ones I dearly loved and I played football with them and all kinds of sports with them. I hope you have a wonderful time with them. I want to be a footballer when I grow up and if that doesn’t go well I can always get a job at the theatre selling tickets and popcorn. I am happy to give you these shoes because I don’t know what I would do without my shoes. I don’t know what you like but I certainly love animals and if you can, can you please give me a new species of animal, especially cats, I adore them.
From Andy
I hope you really like my shoes and rock on!

Just over a month after the collection, sorting began at the Planet Aid UK warehouse in Corby, Northamptonshire. Planet Aid UK is the British member of Humana People to People. On 20th November 2008 Kiwi representatives wrapped up warm and got stuck in helping to sort thousands of pairs of shoes.

The country identified as being most in need by the African branch of Humana, ADPP, was Mozambique. The shoes started their three-month journey to Mozambique just before Christmas and were shipped via Durban in South Africa to Beira, the primary port of Mozambique. At present when second hand clothes and shoes are distributed in Africa it is common for the recipient to be charged a small sum to cover the transport and handling costs. In the case of the ‘Shoe Aid for Africa’ campaign, all costs are totally funded by Kiwi so that both adult and children’s shoes can be given out for free.

Whilst in Mozambique, Kiwi representatives spent a week in April travelling around ADPP programmes including TCE (Total Control of the Epidemic) HIV/AIDS camps, townships and street children’s schools and orphanages in the Sofala and Manica provinces of Mozambique. The Kiwi team were greeted with wonderful African singing and dancing at the symbolic distributions. They spent time meeting children and learning about their daily lives. They also took with them footballs and plenty of classroom equipment including crayons, pencils and notepads to aid the children in their classes. With their new equipment the children wrote letters of thanks back to the children in the UK. This enabled the children to engage and understand each other’s diverse cultures and made the donations far more personal for the recipients of the shoes.

ADPP street school in Chimoio, Mozambique

My name is Adam Fernando. I’m from Mozambique and I have short hair and brown eyes. I would like to say to you thank you for offering us the shoes. I used to walk bare feet but due to your help, now I’m happy with the shoes. In Mozambique the climate is temperate, it’s sometimes cold and sometimes rainy.

At one particular school in Chimoio called “Formigas de Futuro”, meaning “ants of the future”, the Kiwi team spent an afternoon listening to a cultural programme of song and dance followed by an exhausting football game! The children loved playing in the long grass and sweltering heat, most of them barefoot, and they certainly gave the Kiwi team a good game!

The experience was a real eye-opener and it soon became evident how important education was in changing attitudes and driving development in Mozambique, which remains one of the world’s poorest countries.
Director for Kiwi, Margaret Jobling, is thrilled with the response to the Shoe Aid for Africa campaign and overwhelmed by the number of shoes donated. She hopes that it’s success can be built upon with this year’s campaign:
‘The Shoe Aid for Africa campaign has allowed us at Kiwi to engage with children around the country and educate them on the difficulties children face in less privileged parts of the world. It was a fantastic for members of the team to visit Mozambique and take part in the distribution of the shoes first hand. They were privileged to meet the Humana representatives working there and learn about the fantastic work they are doing across numerous projects. Getting actively involved at every stage of the campaign enabled us to see how Kiwi’s support can make a difference and drives us to build on this success for Shoe Aid for Africa 2009’.