The following article is a guest post from Yara Levin, a socially-conscious middle-schooler from Missouri who is already making a serious impact in this world. Yara’s mom, Cindy Levin, is a fellow World Moms Blog contributor and the author of the Anti-Poverty Mom blog. Oh, and she just made the 30 Innovators Fighting World Hunger and Poverty list (she’s listed after Bono!). So I guess you could say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
Hi! My name is Yara. I am twelve years old, and I have a question for you to think about: If you only had less than fifty dollars to buy everything you and your family would need for months, what would you buy?
I asked this question to one hundred Girl Scouts the other day. Among their answers were (in order from most common to least): food, clothing, stuff to make my house safe, etc. I wasn’t very surprised that shoes weren’t one of these priorities. The same is true for the families of an estimated 300 million children without shoes. Of those that do possess coverings for their precious feet, how many have shoes that are durable, comfortable, closed-toe, with thick soles on the bottoms? Good shoes can be expensive and hard to find, especially in impoverished African communities.
As I spoke to the girls, ranging in grade level from kindergarten to sixth grade, many told me that they enjoyed running about barefoot. They considered it a special privilege to dash out of the house to go play without any adults hollering after them to cover those feet of theirs. I, too, cherish memories of soft grass between my toes and the stinging yet thrilling sensation of drop-kicking a soccer ball without proper footwear. But what if sharp rocks and hot sand replace the dew-dropped blades of grass? What if your only playing surface exposes you to painful jiggers (insects) burrowing into your feet and easily infected cuts? Some children actually die from the infections from insects and foot injuries. No parent wishes that for a child!
Here in the United States, we face a drastically different problem. So much stuff gets dumped into landfills each year, a lot of which could have been given another life! How can we tackle global issues of some people not having enough and some people struggling to be rid of a surplus of “junk?”
An organization called Sole Hope offers a simple and fun solution – they make cute shoes out of old jeans! I’m connecting with Sole Hope for my community service project for my Bat Mitzvah in October. I’m collecting old jeans and plastic jugs (for extra heel support) that will be cut up and shipped to Uganda where tailors and shoemakers are paid a fair wage to make shoes for children in communities both rural and urban. I love this because I get to work together with other people, and we have a lot of fun making shoes.
This whole project promotes sustainability because it gives jobs to Ugandans, keeps jeans and tires out of landfills, protects people from jiggers, and the rubber soles placed on the bottoms of the new shoes are made of old tires, usually tossed aside along roads! My goal is to cut 100 pairs of shoes and raise $1000 for Sole Hope because it costs them $10 to make one pair of shoes. That’s three dollars for the tailor, three for the shoemaker, two for supplies, and two for shipping. I’m really excited to be doing this!
So far, I’ve put together complete sets of shoe parts for seven pairs of shoes and raised $380 in less than two weeks! The pattern that I received from Sole Hope is for “Toddler size 8.” It’s awesome that we can use old clothes that we won’t wear anymore to save kids’ lives!
If you’re interested in helping, either with my project or the issue itself or any other way you know of, that’s awesome! My fundraising page can be found here.
To learn more and get involved with Sole Hope, click this link. You could even volunteer to have a shoe cutting party yourself! Thanks for reading this, and I hope you get inspired to do something, if not this, to make the world a better place.
Yara Levin is a middle-school student from St. Louis, MO. She loves crafting and helping others through fundraisers and other projects. She is also a RESULTS volunteer who advocates for global health and education programs by writing letters to U.S. senators and representatives and visiting them in their offices.
Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer.