The Wits One Day Without Shoes 2014 event, held on April 29 on the library lawns, is a global awareness day for children who do not have shoes. This year the event was arranged without a budget.
This mega-shoe drive extends beyond shoe collection and aims to effect change in education and health of children. One Day Without Shoes is an event where people spend a day without wearing shoes.
The event was held on campus for the first time last year and close to 1000 shoes were collected, according to Wayne Mhlanga, who is part of the organisational team.
Student Development and Leadership Unit (SDLU) helped the organisational team as they relied a lot on donations. “We got lots of donations, like the stickers were donated,” said Mahlanga and work was divided and finances supplemented by themselves as the organisational team. Jo Anne Tomlinson, also a part of the team said it was difficult to organise the event without a budget. “It’s really hard.”
Tomlinson hopes this year’s event will raise enough interest to continue the legacy once she graduates. The money made from selling stickers will go towards next year’s budget, to make it easier for the organisers she said.
Karuna Singh, Wits Citizenship Community Outreach (Wits CCO) manager was supportive and got so many people involved said Tomlinson. “She got us everything we needed from Wits,” said Mahlanga.
They would like to get as many donations as they can but the main aim is to create awareness amongst people.
Tomlinson said the event by Wits CCO is meant to create awareness. Last year there was a good turnout, organisers were overwhelmed by how students took off the shoes they were wearing and donated them. “These were their favourite pair of shoes,” she said. This year, they would like to get as many donations as they can but the main aim is to create awareness amongst people, according to Mhlanga.
Last year there were activities students could participate in, barefoot. This year, the band, Go Barefoot was supposed to perform but because of “circumstances beyond our control” the band will not be coming, said Mhlanga. Another event will be held for a soft-drink company, both events would have had to compete for sound, so “we will work with them”. Although, the lawns were booked first for One Day Without Shoes, “Money takes precedence” and the lawns will be shared by both events, according to Mahlanga.
The turn of events
This year, up to 200 shoes were collected. The shoe collection was a success, despite the lack of a budget. Students generously contributed shoes and the Wits SRC made their mark to support the drive and donated a number of shoes.
A solution to the problem
This initiative is driven by TOMS shoes, started by Blake Mycoskie, who wanted to make a sustainable difference. This is a for-profit company that has a non-profit division basis, called Friends of Toms. For every pair of TOMS shoes bought, a pair of shoes is donated to an impoverished child, said Mhlanga. Additionally, part of the profit from eyewear sold is used to save and restore eyesight for people in developing countries.
In Argentina, if you don’t have shoes, you can’t go to school, because you need to wear the complete uniform. So you can’t get an education if you don’t have shoes, according to Tomlinson. In Ethiopia, the disease Podoconiosisis, a soil-transmitted disease is 100% preventable if shoes are worn, she explained.
Wits CCO will be working in association with Rotary to distribute the shoes that are collected.
This article was featured in the Wits Vuvuzela