After watching a video of African children suffering from parasites in their feet, Asher Collie couldn’t just just sit and watch this continuing, she instant knew that she could help African men and women by teaching them a simple trade—how to make shoes.
You did your first trip to Uganda and Zambia in spring 2010, what was it that sparked the idea to start Sole Hope?
I was stirred to start Sole Hope when I saw a video (under Our Inspiration on our website, www.solehope.org) that showed the devastating situation in Africa that is happening daily. Children’s feet are becoming infested with jiggers that leave them in pain and often times paralyzed and in some cases can even lead to death. This problem can be prevented with washing of the feet and wearing close toed shoes. I knew I could consider this someone elses problem, or I could do what I could to help. So I started Sole Hope with the goal to educate, employ and outfit children with shoes.
What are some of the cultural challenges when planting your idea into a village and teaching the women how to make shoes?
Because so many countries, including the U.S., have come into Africa and given handouts many times children and adults alike just want to be given something. We work hard to introduce the concept of working for what they are given so they have some investment in the process. Occasionally communication is a problem even if everyone is speaking English. Different cultures think differently and have different work ethics. None of these challenges are impossible to overcome, but they are certainly important to be aware of.
I personally do not find this difficult. I grew up living all over the world so I love and embrace different cultures and lifestyles. The communities in Africa are very supportive of one another. They live close together in proximity and share a lot of life with one another.
What are some other improvement you wish to see happened in these communities Sole Hope are working in?
We are constantly working on improving the sewers skills in sewing and shoemaking. As always, we are working on adding more sewers as we can afford to hire them. We would like to be able to offer more education and health initiatives to prevent these diseases that are entering through the feet.
You are also a photographer, what is your favorite thing to capture?
My absolute favorite thing to capture are children! I was a child and family photographer for seven years before starting Sole Hope and I still have a passion for capturing life through my lens. It is now my honor to capture a different kind of life-the life of children in Africa.
For more info visit www.solehope.com