In rural Africa children walk many miles each day to gather firewood, get water or attend school. They are walking barefoot on hot ground that burns their feet, over sharp rocks and thorns that create cuts which are pathways for infections and jiggers. Jiggers are parasites that enter through open wounds, lay eggs, multiple and can result in children becoming paralyzed, losing limbs and even facing death. Since half of Africa is living in extreme poverty, they simply cannot afford to buy shoes.
We are training mothers to make shoes for their children out of locally sourced materials. These mothers are in turn training other mothers so that every child in their village will have shoes. When they outgrow them, they simply make them a new pair. We are also establishing cottage industries for selling shoes to provide economic empowerment. After our initial project in Mozambique, we initiated projects in Sierra Leone, Uganda, Mali and will soon begin working in Congo and Chad.
Heeling Our World educates U.S. students about human rights issues, and empowers them by giving them an avenue for advocacy. They learn about the hardships of the world's barefoot children, and then make KLEM shoes for them. In Africa our project improves the health of children not only by wearing shoes, but also through our free walk-in clinic in Bamako, Mali. Teaching workers in rural African villages to make KLEMs, gives them a pathway out of poverty.