I hosted my first shoe cutting party for Sole Hope about a week before I left on my trip. I was super excited to be able to do this before I actually visited Sole Hope because I knew I would get to see the entire process from shoe party to shoe placing. I know so many times you participate in things that you are told are making a difference but you actually never get to see the final product, and so I'm here to tell you that hosting a shoe cutting party is LIFE CHANGING for the people in Uganda that Sole Hope ministers to.
Sole Hope makes this process super easy for you as the host, and when you receive your shoe cutting party kit you have everything you need to know to make hosting super simple and straight forward. When we pulled out our kit I played the video for my family a few days before the actual party and my kids were in awe of what we were looking at. Kids their age unable to properly walk because the infestation of jiggers was so bad in their feet. Kids like them without access to basic medical care. Kids like them without access to shoes. Kids just like them, yet so different.
I invited basically everyone I had ever talked to in life (yes – over invite!!) and knew that the perfect people would show up. It was Spring Break at our school, and so I was honored to host some of my kids best friends from school and their momma's as we cut out patterns. What a joy to see the kids involved in this process right alongside their moms.
Before traveling to Uganda I would have believed that these shoes made a difference, but I actually didn't have the slightest clue about the spectrum of the difference cutting up a pair of old jeans could actually make.
After my party I mailed all of the shoes back to the stateside office, but snuck one set in my bag and took it all the way around the world so that I could see first hand what happens to those old jeans we cut up in my living room one rainy day in March.
The first place the cut up pair of jeans end up is with the tailor. This is Okello, and he's been working for Sole Hope for 2 years. One of the greatest things I loved about Sole Hope's mission on providing shoes for children is how they employee so many Ugandans to create the shoes. These are people that have consistent and well paying jobs with Sole Hope.
After this, your jeans are sent off to the shoemakers where they transform what you cut out into actual shoes! I was amazed at this process and seriously couldn't believe that my friends and I had helped create actual shoes that are going on little kids feet to help them prevent future jiggers in their feet. It didn't seem possible that we could have such a huge impact.
The head shoemaker, Kamagala, and his son, Zues, transform all of the fabric into shoes in their little quaint workshop at the back of the Sole Hope Guesthouse property. Kamagala has been a shoemaker since 1977 and has been working for Sole Hope for about a year and a half. Each day they create about 15 shoes that will eventually end up on the feet of children and adults that previously had no shoes.
The final shoe is finished and ready to change a life. Aren't they so stinking cute?!?! These shoes are then stored in containers based on their size and taken to the villages during outreach days.
Each week Sole Hope heads out to a different village to provide them with a free clinic to remove jiggers and educate them about how to remove them and prevent them.
Each patient that passes through is given a new pair of shoes. Shoes that you helped make from your shoe cutting party. Our team members each brought a pair that they had cut from their party and we had the joy of placing them on the feet of children.
These shoes I'm holding were cut out at my party around my kitchen table. My friends and their children showed up, we cut shoes out, and we made a big difference in this little girls life. On this day she had jiggers removed from her feet, received education on how to prevent them, and then I had the honor of bending down and placing shoes on her feet that came all the way from Austin, TX. The moment was surreal for me as I had witnessed first hand every single step that this old pair of jeans made to get to this little girl.
Your shoe cutting parties make a huge difference. You get to be a part of the solution. These kids now have shoes, education, and a huge smile on their face.
If you have hosted a shoe cutting party, I'd love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment and tell me your story. Thank you for your time to this ministry. If you haven't I hope I have convinced you to host one. Your old denim changes kids lives.
There are several ways you can get involved to help Sole Hope:
1. Share this post. I'd love it if you shared this post on your social media outlets so that others would know about the impact they could have from hosting a party. (It's easy to share. Just click below on one of the share buttons. I told you it was easy!)
2. Host a shoe cutting party. Visit Sole Hope's website for more information on how to do this. As I've mentioned, it's super easy and makes a huge impact. Maybe even you'll have some awesome denim and some kid will be running around Uganda with yellow shoes!
3. Visit Sole Hope's website and sign up for their newsletter. This is way too easy not to do, and this month for every new email sign up a generous donor is donating $1 to the ministry. So in a way you just donated a dollar just by signing up to their newsletter. This is a great way to stay informed on what they are doing. Click HERE to sign up. While you are at it, make sure you follow them on FB, IG & twitter.
4. Give to the mission. Visit their Pure Charity page and find out how you can financially partner with them as they move forward with their next steps for a permanent home for Sole Hope.
Most of the photos by Gary S. Chapman – others my iphone!