By Gillian Phair
It is quite rare you find a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that works well to solve a sustainability problem. However in the case of The Shoe that Grows, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is changing the lives of those in absolute poverty.
Because International, a charity from Idaho, produces shoes in two sizes (small and large) which ‘grow’ with the help of snap fasteners. These enable the shoes to last over a child’s entire education. Each pair of shoes can grow 5 sizes and last 5 years.
This is not just a matter of comfort and sustainability– 2 billion children around the world contract soil transmitted diseases by walking barefoot. Many children in poverty wear plastic bottles, parts of car tires and badly fitted shoes on their feet, all of which can damage their health.
Often, provision of clothing aid can cause more problems than it solves – for example in bringing about a decline in local clothing industries. Children in poverty need durable shoes that are fitted for them, rather than occasional donations of worn-out shoes that aren’t made to fit or made to last.
By the end of 2015, the charity successfully sent out 30,000 pairs of the shoes to 25 countries around the world, including Ecuador, Haiti, Ghana and India.
2016 represents an important year for Because International, as they hope to manufacture these shoes locally within the target areas. In fact, initial plans are already underway in East Africa. This is an essential positive feedback system – providing people with jobs, skills and income to be circulated in the local economy.
In recognizing these needs, the founder of Because International, Kenton Lee, has created a gift of practical compassion. This is a growing project and with hope, they can continue to make for more healthy heels around the world.