KEEN and Project Sole in Jamaica

Project Sole is a non profit organization that uses shoes to improve communities around the world. They partner with civic organizations, schools, local clubs, charities, and business to gather new and slightly used shoes, which are then distributed to impoverished and disaster stricken communities around the world.

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KEEN had the opportunity to partner with Project Sole again, with previous trips to Moore, OK, Costa Rica, Chile, and most recently, last month’s trip to Jamaica. The Salvation Army graciously allowed Project Sole to use their facilities as distribution points to some of the more impoverished areas all around the island, including a rural school thirty minutes outside of Kingston. They also made some impromptu stops along the road and handed out shoes to people at fruit stands and those biking by. Sometimes it took several attempts to reassure folks that the shoes were really free before they took the shoes and paid with smiles and hugs.

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Having a pair of shoes is considered a given for most of us. But the USAID estimates estimated 1 billion people globally are affected by one or more neglected tropical diseases (NTD) and the World Health Organization estimates even more are affected by epidermal parasitic skin diseases (EPSD) which are exacerbated in resource-poor communities. Shoes provide a practical solution for protecting feet from contaminated soil or water. In addition, in areas where shoes are often inherited without much regard to size when there is no money for new shoes, shoes that fit well help prevent injuries and blisters that can easily become infected. In addition to health implications, having a pair of shoes can have social effects too, because many countries like Haiti require having a pair of shoes for school enrollment.

It’s easy to take something like a pair of shoes for granted, but Project Sole is doing amazing work and making sure that everyone has this basic necessity.