Volume 81, Issue 10
November 20, 2009

With Your Shoes, We Can Make A Difference!

By Andrew Antonio

SIFE Correspondent

Take a second and imagine a world where every day presents a challenge for survival. Every waking second of your life is spent making it to the next. Your biggest fear isnít a research paper, but the fact that you might not eat for days. Your greatest concern certainly isnít the variety of menu items at lunch; this is a world where the word ďmenuĒ isnít part of your vocabulary. Some days you eat, and some days you go hungry.

This is no imaginary world. This is day-to-day life for some families in the struggling economy of Ghana. Now evaluate your current situation. Even during this awful ďrecession,Ē we currently reside in one of the best economies in the world, an economy where a pair of used shoes will often find its way into a trash can. That single pair of shoes can help lift an entire family out of poverty forever.

The Washington College SIFE team is partnering with the Perpetual Prosperity Pumps Foundation (PPPF) to help make an impact on the Ghanian economy. Ghana, located in West Africa, is a country with a young democracy, gifted citizens, and a struggling economy. The primary occupation is agriculture; most Ghanians live in villages and farm for a living.

One of the primary difficulties they face is the lack of a dependable water supply during the dry season; they also face the loss of their rain forest through non-sustainable farming practices. PPPF Africa is a foundation that aims to address these problems, farmer by farmer, village by village. It collects used athletic shoes and sells them to street vendors, aiding the local economy.

These proceeds are then used to purchase a variety of items for farming families, including rabbits, bee hives, bicycles, trees, and an irrigation system run by human power. To help us make a difference, we ask that you donate your gently used athletic shoes, sizes seven and up. Members of the WC community have already donated close to 200 pairs of shoes. Six hundred pairs of gently used athletic shoes will provide a family in Ghana with a well, an irrigation system, training, seeds, and livestock that will allow them to enjoy a perpetually sustainable income.

The results are staggering; 600 pairs of shoes can yield year round crop production, increase annual small farm income by 500 percent, and eradicate hunger forever. Your reward? The personal fulfillment that you have empowered a family to lift itself out of poverty.

If that isnít enough, the members of SIFE have prepared an additional incentive. In the spirit of competition, the members of SIFE are asking that you team up with students on your dormitory floor or in your Greek organization to collect as many pairs of shoes as possible. The competition will kick off on Nov. 29 and come to an end on Feb. 1. We will be rewarding the highest collecting residential floor and Greek organization with a worth-while prize.

You can drop off your shoes in the large plastic bags located on your dormitory floor. If you donít have a plastic bag located in your building, check in with your RA for further instructions. If you have any additional questions or would like to get involved with the project, please contact project manager Michelle Moore at mmoore4@washcoll.edu.

This Thanksgiving break, be thankful for the shoes on your feet, and on your way back to school, grab that old pair of athletic shoes in your closet. With your shoes, we can make a world of difference.