We wake up, we put on our shoes and sandals and we go, it is part of our lives, it is just a reflex action to 90% of us. What about this 10%, ever thought of that? What passes to most of us as a reflex, is indeed a lifeline to this cohort of people and is the margin of distinction between healthy lives and diseases, missed education and unimaginable discomfort. In a small village in Siaya County in Kenya, there lives a community which is so much infested with jiggers (small fleas which burrow into hands and feet which get swollen, painful, and itchy and eventually makes it hard to even walk.) and so many of the people, ranging from very young children to the elderly are infected.
This is however a case of not just double, but triple tragedy. Imagine a situation where you live in a place infested by jiggers, you are so far below the poverty line you cannot afford the standard three meals, which means that something like shoes to cover your feet, are a luxury you cannot even afford to think about. Well, this is the norm here, children have to walk for up to 20km every day to school and back barefoot and parents have to walk around in search of food and money still barefoot in those jigger infested and dirty roads.
Ecofinder Kenya in partnership with students from the University of Southampton, have taken the initiative to help remedy this problem in this community. We have started an initiative called Sole Support, through which we engage women in the community as Sole Support Entrepreneurs and train them in hand making environmentally friendly, simple and yet very effective shoes made of recycled tyre strips and cloth materials for their local community members and distributing them at very affordable costs.
In addition to this, we are also providing medicine and training manuals for treatment and prevention of jiggers as we also engage volunteers to help treat the already infected people, before distributing the shoes to them, and ensuring they know all the preventive measure to avoid re infection.
Sole Support is for all walks of life and is set to empower the community members to make the change they need themselves through providing them with all the tools, skills and knowledge they require to do so. We aim to see more children back in school and be healthy and comfortable enough to concentrate on their studies and also improve the living standards of the youth and the elderly so they can be able to provide better lives for their children and eventually be rid of the jigger menace in the region.