A Mile in Their Shoes

In Uganda, shoes are optional. The weather is warm. They’ve had a long dry spell so it isn’t muddy. And when you can either pay for food or shoes, shoes just aren’t that important.

Unfortunately, going without shoes in Uganda also comes with risks, namely in the form of a parasite called “Jiggers.” Jiggers are endemic, and while not terrible in and of themselves, left unchecked, as often happens, they can cause incredible suffering. Walking is painful, making it difficult to get to school, work, or anywhere very far away. Wounds can get infected. Some remedies can actually be fatal. And the risk of spreading HIV/AIDS or some other bloodborne pathogen is significant without very strict protocols. It is a huge problem, on every level.

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The holes you can see in this child’s heels are from jiggers. Jiggers burrow into the skin and lay eggs. The egg sack grows, the eggs hatch, and more jiggers to begin the cycle all over again.

It was such a blessing to be able to take shoes with us when we visited schools in August. Several children were blessed with shoes that fit perfectly.

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All the children at one school who were blessed with shoes. Hope (you can read her story here) is fourth from the left, with the green shirt and bright pink tennis shoes.

But even better than helping fit shoes on children’s feet was watching our Ugandan friend, Ahamad, get in and help!

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Ahamad is the young man in the suit, helping the boy try on camo rain boots.

Ahamad works at the hotel where we stay and had heard about MAMO, but didn’t really know what we were doing.  So he asked to join us as we visited schools one day after work (he works nights so he can go to school). The experience changed his life. Ahamad said that he knew there was poverty in Uganda, but he’d never seen it quite so clearly.

The focus of MAMO right now is to provide urgently needed medical support to children living in extreme poverty in Uganda. But the heart behind MAMO is to empower Ugandans to care for Ugandans. And that’s exactly what Ahamad is doing.

These shoes, made in Uganda by Ugandans, are what Amahad is purchasing, one pair at a time, to share with those in need. In light of our overall goal, it doesn’t get much better.

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