Six-year-old Nandini could not hide her joy when her school gave her a shoe that `grows’. Taking her ordi nary black shoes off, the UKG student immediately wore the new shoes which had adjustable buckles and a strap on the toe that helps it expand by five sizes.
Nandini’s father Satesh, a domestic help, too found the shoes a big help. “Ab paanch saal tak koi joota nahi khareed na padega. (I will not have to spend mon ey on buying her shoes for five years.),“ said Satesh, who spent Rs 500 annually to buy shoes for his daughter. The sav ing would be significant for him, con sidering he earns Rs 3,000 per month.
Similarly , Kuldeep Kashyap, anoth er UKG student, immediately grew fond of his new `growing’ black shoe. Kul deep’s father Jai Narayan, who sells peanuts, said, “Badhte bachchon ke paer bhi jaldi badhte hai, aur itni jaldi jaldi joote khareedna aasan nahi hota hamare liye (Children’s feet grow fast and it wasn’t easy for me to buy new shoes frequently).“
Around 150 needy students studying in NavSrijan, a school for underprivi leged children run by Seth MR Jaipuria School, received the shoes, an innova tion by Kenton Lee of Nairobi, Kenya.Lee came up with the novel idea while walking to church and noticing a little girl wearing shoes that were too small for her feet.
But all this wouldn’t have been possible without Anam Zaidi, a psychologist, who in April started a fundraising campaign to buy growing shoes for slum kids. This, she believed, would keep them safe from infections from cuts and scrapes on their feet from go ing barefoot, and from contracting diseases that cause them to miss school.
“I read an article on the `Shoe That Grows’ on social media. Without any clue of what may come of it, I posted a status on Facebook seeking financial support. The response was overwhelming and we could raise money for 50 such shoes,“ said Zaidi.
Much to her surprise, a generous donor in the US, who liked Anam’s work, got in touch with Lee and donated money for 300 pairs of the shoes. “We were overwhelmed. This donor who contributed 300 pairs of shoes lost her husband who was a cobbler. She saw our fundraising campaign and wanted to help us in speeding up the process. We placed our orders in July ,“ Anam said.
The second challenge after money was getting the shoes delivered to India.Help came in from students of Seattle Pacific University who were travelling to Delhi in December. “Each one decided to drop their extra clothes and carry the shoes instead. Together, we could manage to bring 300 shoes to Delhi, from where they were transported to Lucknow,” said Anam.
Principal, Navsrijan School, Asha Chaddha said, “We could see the happiness on faces of these little kids, which in turn made us happy .”