The reality of magazine publishing is that you have to work quite far in advance, so I am writing this the day after Siya Kolisi and the magnificent Springboks, won the World Cup. What a triumph for the team and the nation…I cannot tell you how emotional I was. Even before the match, I had butterflies in my tummy, so the players must have had eagles in theirs! And as for the singing of the national anthem…I have yet to get through it without breaking down! But really, what a match!! So exciting, and the way the Boks lifted and changed their game and took the English totally by surprise, was thrilling!
Much has been said about Siya Kolisi and his leadership, but the real gem in his life story is how he rose from really humble beginnings, to leading the national team in a sport that has, against the odds, united all races, and which has rekindled Nelson Mandela’s belief in the Rainbow Nation at a time when the rainbow was getting very faded and jaded. Part of Siya’s story is how, as a child, he often went to bed hungry and he did not have shoes to wear to school. Sadly, in 2019, this is still a reality in our country and although there are so many organisations that attempt to address the situation, there are still kids that do not have enough to eat and who do not have shoes! Which leads me to my story this month on an organisation that was started three years ago by a 9 year old boy!! Yes, a 9 year old!!!
Sole2Sole was born because 9 year old Dario (in his mom’s car, stopped at a traffic light) saw that a boy, playing on the pavement whilst his mother was “begging”, had no shoes and his feet were in a very poor state. Dario asked his mom if he could give the child the shoes that he had at home that did not fit him anymore, and from that one small, empathetic gesture to one child, Dario’s initiative has grown into an NPO that has collected nearly 50 000 pairs of shoes (some pre-worn and some brand new) for people in need. Not only is Dario’s whole family now involved, but the network of collection points has spread to schools in the area and in other cities, and high school students who have to do a certain amount of community service every year, have got involved with the sorting of collected shoes. Sole2Sole’s success has also inspired other children to start their own initiatives. One boy wrote to Dario and said: ”What good are shoes without socks?” and then started his own drive called Aaron’s Rock Your Socks which has now collected over 60 000 pairs of socks. With young people of this calibre and with this empathy for those less fortunate than themselves, there is indeed so much hope for this country!!
And getting back to Siya Kolisi’s story… Sole2Sole, when hearing about the situation in Siya’s home area, donated over 300 pairs of shoes which Siya and his wife, Rachel, took and distributed to their community. We are going into Summer now, so walking barefoot is a pleasure but when you think of how cold it gets in a lot of regions in South Africa, the thought of going without shoes is no fun at all!
Sole2Sole collects shoes for children and adults, and sports footwear is also welcome. With the rate that kids’ feet grow, there must be thousands of perfectly good shoes and boots lying around just waiting for someone to appreciate them again! You too can get involved in the collection of shoes for the under-privileged. Firstly, all shoes must be in good condition. Get your extended family, your school, your church and your work colleagues to collect as many pairs of shoes as they can. Have a designated bin, box or just a black plastic bag in which people can put their donations. Sole2Sole does not take monetary donations, but if you do not have any pre-loved shoes to donate and you have some cash to spare, you can buy some new shoes...imagine how special it would be for a dis-advantaged child to open a box and find a brand-new pair of shoes of your very own. So readers, get your souls working and let’s put some soles on needy feet!!
All the advertisers surrounding this article have made a contribution to Sole2Sole which allow us to purchase some new shoes to send off. The Grapevine will also act as a depot for the collection of shoes and will get them to Sole2Sole for distribution to impoverished communities.