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The End of the Beginning…



A lot can change in 3 years.

Covid. The war in Ukraine. Increased political polarisation. People we love pass away. Mother Nature further reminding us that global warming is ‘A Thing’.

And yet some things seem to change very little…

Since I was last in South Africa, it feels like life in the townships remains much as before. The same smiling kids running around playing. The same stark lack of opportunity.

The last time I was in Cape Town was in 2019 with work colleagues Kevin Grant & Geoff Lockwood, to attend AfricaCom, the continent’s largest Telecoms, Media & Technology event. The conference returned in 2022 after a few years of Covid disruption. In the intervening years technology has made the world that little bit smaller again.

However, for those who live in the townships of sub-Saharan Africa, their worlds have expanded. The biggest township in Cape Town, Khayelitsha, has grown substantially since my last visit and is now home to an estimated 500,000 people.


On the trip home from that last trip to South Africa, moved by a visit to Khayelitsha, a notion was hatched.

We would try and collect 500 pairs of preloved sport shoes to send back to group of kids we saw there, attending a sports training session provided by the CATCH Trust. Within a little over 12 months, you had donated over 15,000 pairs of shoes.



It wasn’t just shoes that were shipped from Ireland to South Africa. It was a hope, a spirit, that connected kids a world apart. It became a really simple platform for nurturing kindness & awareness. It offered a tangible expression to a growing desire to reuse and generally live more sustainably.


I have never been involved in a project where so many wanted to do so much for so little. In My Shoes seems to be a cause of its time. A simple idea but one with the potential to impact thousands of lives, in however small a way, by connecting individual acts of kindness. With shoes come school, and education, a hopeful future



During my week South Africa I met with numerous inspirational people;

Kids

Teachers

NGO founders

Sporting legends

Coaches

Stall holders

Preachers


People who spoke of equality. Dignity. The future, a better future.


We do not know what the next 3 years will bring, but the future for In My Shoes seems bright. We have applications for charity status pending in both Ireland and the UK.


The past 3 years, despite Covid, has brough many contacts and offers of assistance, from networks of schools to working with the global UPS Trust. We are forging partnerships with a whole host of African NGOs who will assist us to distribute the shoes to the most needy kids in the townships.


Indeed it was on a visit to one of these NGO, MasiSports, that it really hit home to me that lots of small individual actions can actually make a difference.


We visited Ukhanyo Primary School, on the outskirts of Cape Town. There we met Vince van der Bijl, legendary cricketer for South Africa and founder of the MasiSports Project to see at first hand the work that they do.


During the visit something caught my eye; a shamrock on the wall outside the kitchen, in the colours of both the South African and Irish flags. Along side it a sign with the Irish word Fáilte (Welcome).



It turns out the school has also been extensively supported by the amazing Irish charity, Mellon Educates.

Over a week in November 2015, dozens of Irish tradespeople gave up their time to work long long days in Cape Town. In the space of a week they reconstructed 11 classrooms and toilet facilities, replacing temporary structures with impressive permanent school buildings.


So just look at one school, nearly 2,000 pupils, in the Western Cape of South Africa. Partially rebuilt by Mellon Educates. Empowered by MasiSports, who in turn are soon to be supported by In My Shoes.


3 voluntary organisations.

3 Different ways of giving

1 Common goal – helping others realise their potential






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