Updated: Jan 14, 2022
Taking the step to fulfilling souls
Imagine being on a mountain, trekking through snow, in temperatures ranging (20 to -20F or -7 to -29C) as you near the summit, in plain keds shoes - no grip, no water protection, no insulation, and slippery? How many of us would say yes to that?
It's exactly how the porters had to perform their job, back in 2010 when I trekked #MountKilimanjaro; walking, hiking and climbing, with heavy bags (full of equipment - our tents, kitchen supplies and food, etc) for 6 days, through mud, rocks and snow, with torn, inappropriate foot ware. I was astounded at how they could manage! My feet were cold even with quality hiking shoes and thick, insulating socks. I was also saddened by the reality that hiking shoes were but a dream for them, as they couldn't afford the cost, given the wages they lived on.
The porters play a huge role in the experience and success of the hikers; without them, we wouldn't be fed, and we'd have to carry all of our own gear (sleeping bags, clothes, supplies, etc, in a 20lb bag, which feels bone crushing when at high altitudes). I felt the need to help! I couldn't stand by and see this continue to happen. I needed to do something.
I was traveling around the world at that time, mostly to developing countries and my observations became very evident: the need for shoes.
Children would play and walk in the streets, shoeless. It was brought to my attention children without shoes were not permitted to attend school. Imagine not being able to receive an education for something as simple as shoes! Not to mention increased risks for disease and infection (the nurse in me is always looking at health implications). Again, it didn't seem acceptable to me.
After I got back from #traveling, it was time to think about what I could do. My heart really wanted to do two things: a) start a program to provide hiking shoes for the porters, however, this would be a very challenging, logistical undertaking, and b) help the children - increase opportunity for schooling and reduce risk of disease.
Shoes for Souls was born out of my bedroom! The word was out and through the generosity of others, I collected over 550 pairs of lightly used shoes- for kids and adults. I cleaned and categorized each pair of shoes - you should've seen the wall of boxes! It was a challenge finding a way to ship that many shoes, without an exorbitant cost. I researched, networked, and asked for 3 months, before the solution came. Thankfully, since I was traveling to #Ghana for a health mission with the #Rotary club, we were able to ship them to the community we were supporting, for those in need!
Whenever you're in doubt as to whether just you, or 1 person can make a difference, KNOW that it's an astounding YES you can! Do it. Do that thing your heart is asking of you, despite what your mind tells you to stop you.
A short news article about it is here: #windsorstar
"We rise by lifting others" ~ Robert Ingersoll