SHOE GIVING JOY IN AFRICA

Ian Payne with shoe donationsIan Payne noticed conditions of runners’ shoes when he started a running group in Kampala. When staff sergeant Ian Payne moved his family from the UK to Uganda for work, little did he know that he would also embark on a journey of generosity. For the past eight months Ian has been on secondment at the High Commission of Uganda in the capital Kampala. He started a running group at a local boxing club and saw condition of the runners’ shoes. “I looked down and saw the boys’ shoes were in a bad way,” says Ian, who is originally from London. Felt fortunate for myself and my family but very sad inside as I could see poverty and I did not like it. Yet they were smiling and happy getting on with life, humbled me and I wanted to help.Boxing club member with shoesA young boxing club member receiving a pair of trainers. Ian thought about the number of shoes he no longer wore and quickly decided to donate his shoes. He enlisted help of friends and family to give away their spare shoes too. When I received them kitted out guys but had loads of shoes left over, says Ian who is part of the Adjutant General’s Corps in the British Army. Ian stops at a roadside to give trainers to youngsters. When he drives out of Kampala for business, Ian says he sees many people walking on roads with no shoes. “Out west it’s really bad,” he said. I keep shoes at the back of my vehicle if I see people without shoes, I pull over and give them a pair.wp-1578331833242.jpg Faces light up given shoes that arrived Ian thought of where he could donate them, visited the local orphanage giving dozens of shoes to children. Joy makes a difference, evident straightaway. Seeing their faces light up, they are so happy to receive something that seems simple to us. Many dropped to their knees saying ‘God bless you’, and praying.” When Ian posted appeal for shoe sharing on social media, the response was huge. So some people have contacted him saying they have created shoe collection stations in their local areas. Ian’s colleagues on the operational tours send donations. Many people sent shoes that have hardly been worn and are in good condition. Others may be old but are better than no shoes.Boxes of shoes in lorrySo far, Ian has received the majority of donations from the UK, but he has had interest from other parts of the world from Cyprus to the US. Its snowballed a social media response,” says Ian. “It is like a full-time job replying to messages. It started with trainers has expanded to any kind of shoes although don’t accept high heels! Its not convenient for long distance walks and types of jobs done. He says people also wanted to send him clothes but it was just him handling all the donations. I’m a one-man band but I recently asked my daughters to help me. Ian wants to take the trainers to more schools, particularly in rural areas. Ian wants to go to more schools orphanages particularly in rural areas where he has identified a need for shoes, for children. I really can’t stress enough how grateful they are to receive a pair of shoes,” he says. “Yet I still feel saddened as I barely scratched surface and so much more can be done.” African weather is so hot you can fry egg on stone. The sunshine heats earth bakes the feet and thorns prick soles of the feet.wp-1578395647559.jpg

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