300 million children around the world are barefoot. They are at risk of infection, and death, from soil-transmitted diseases that enter their bodies through cuts in unprotected feet. In Sierra Leone this condition added to the Ebola crises as blood from these cuts contributed to the spread of the disease. The crises left the country with orphans and women who have lost everything. Our project provides shoes for orphans and gives women victims economic empowerment while restoring their dignity.
In much of Africa getting a disease like Ebola (or even jiggers) leaves you stigmatized. Many of the women have not only lost their families, the disease cost them their homes, jobs and dignity. Ebola also left many children orphaned. These children have to 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.
We will establish cottage industries for shoemaking employing ladies who were Ebola victims and survivors . Women and caregivers will make shoes, called KLEMs for their children and for children who were orphaned by the crisis, giving them a chance for a healthier life. They will also be provided the opportunity to sell them at local marketplaces. This project will create economic empowerment for the women and help then restore their lives and their dignity.
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 medical well being of children not only through the donation of shoes, but by also developing sustainable cottage industries for shoe making. Teaching workers in rural African villages to make KLEMs, gives them a pathway out of poverty.