I have a couple of dear friends who are just crazy enough to believe they can change the world, Dru and Asher Collie, founder and CEO of Sole Hope. Over the course of a couple of years they have found many others who are just crazy enough to join with them and try it, too. I am one of those crazy people.
Believe it or not, LilyGiggle was once in the business of selling soft soled baby shoes. In an effort, to keep this post from becoming a novel, I will keep the details of the transformation from shoes to patterns to a minimum, but shoes were my first love. I developed a pattern for them soon after the birth of my first daughter and LilyGiggle shoes was born in 2006.
Because of that, my friend, Asher, contacted me after returning from her life-altering first trip to Zambia in 2010 to see if I could help her come up with a shoe. She shared with me what she had seen over there and what she wanted to do about it. I was deeply moved. A simply horrible parasite, that the people call “jiggers”, has a simple cure…closed toed shoes. Asher’s dream was to put closed toed shoes on the feet of all those children. A shoe that would protect them from the awful effects of jiggers that eat away the skin and causes illness. I know that this photo is so hard to look at. What if this was your child’s foot? I can’t imagine.
I was thrilled to offer what little bit of shoemaking knowledge I had to help and, with a newborn baby on my lap, and our collective kiddos running amok, Sole Hope began as 3 mamas sat around on Asher’s living room floor surrounded by upholstery fabric and old tires. Many days were spent that way as we worked desperately to create the very first shoe.
Well, Sole Hope has come a long way, baby! From those first humble beginnings it has grown into an organization fueled by passionate, committed people who are, not only, putting closed toed shoes on African children, one pair at a time, but also helping African men and women by teaching them the simple trade of shoemaking. This gives them a sustainable income and hope for their future. After many attempts and failures we finally created a shoe design that works and is being made in Africa right now. Can you see why this excites me?
Last spring, part of the Sole Hope team made another trip to Uganda and Zambia. I made a handful of baby shoes from my old LilyGiggle shoe patterns for the team members to pass along to some needy children. It was good to make baby shoes again. This photo is so precious to me!
And this one made me just plain cry when I first received it. To think that a darling little toddler in a land that still only exists for me in my imagination is wearing a pair of shoes that will keep her healthy…and that I made them with my own two hands. How cool is that???
After their return, it was decided that we would make more baby shoes. The original design was tweaked and sewn up several times until a fresh new look was created. This new shoe became the Sole Hope Baby Shoe and is now sold online and in boutiques around the country to raise funds for the organization. Made mostly from recycled materials, including a recycled rubber sole, each shoe is unique. They are handmade right here in the U.S. (creating jobs right here at home) and they are loaded with personality! I cannot even begin to describe how amazing it feels to know that the simple little shoe pattern that I made to put shoes on my first sweet baby girl has now been given new life and is generating income to help sustain such an awesome dream!
Here’s my newest baby girl, Hope, modeling the shoe for you. No, I did not name her after Sole Hope (she was born and named Hope just a few weeks before Sole Hope began) but it may make me like Sole Hope even more because of the name.
Look at all those cute shoes!
Okay, so why am I telling you the story of how I became involved with Sole Hope??? Well…so glad that you asked!
I want to give my readers an opportunity to act. It feels SOOO good to give. “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”–Mother Teresa
Although, Sole Hope has grown by leaps and bounds it still has a long way to go in fully accomplishing its goals. Its potential is enormous but, like any non-profit, it needs money to get there. Right now, it has been given an AH-mazing opportunity to be awarded the money it needs to build a facility in Ndola, Zambia through a contest sponsored by Cultivate Wines. The money would go towards a building in Ndola, Zambia to serve the community there. This building would store sewing machines, materials, and finished shoes as well as provide the space needed to teach shoemaking and sanitation classes.
So what “small thing” can you do to help this cause so very dear to my heart? Well, first of all you can vote. The opportunity is a contest so Sole Hope needs votes to win. Now, the contest is full of great causes so you may find one there that you would rather vote for. I know many of you have your own worthy causes dear to your heart. What I’m asking you to do is just to go check out Sole Hope for yourself, watch the video and decide if you think it deserves to win $50,000. If you do, then, by all means…vote for it! You can vote every day until March 30th. That one minute out of your day has the potential to create long lasting effects for many people and for years to come.
Sole Hope Promo 2012 from jason garris on Vimeo.
If you have read this far…THANK YOU!!! I know this was a long post but I really did my very bestest to condense it as much as possible. I have SO much to say on this subject. Thanks so much for letting me share this with you.
You can vote by going here.