There is an old story, that at the end of the nineteenth century, just as colonial Africa was opening up to westerners, all the manufacturers of shoes in Victorian England sent their representatives to Africa to see if there was an opportunity there for their wares. All the reps came back with the same report: ‘There is no market here for us. Nobody in Africa wears shoes.’
All, that is, except for the Bata Shoe Company rep. He reported back something else: ‘There’s a huge opportunity here! Nobody in Africa wears shoes.’ To this day Bata appears all over Africa, even in the remotest of spots. Bata’s shoes are known as the shoes of Africa.
I tell this story not to make a point about economics or marketing, but because in it three images come together at the same time that orbit around me very closely as our trip to Uganda is on the horizon: (1) the need for us to flip our perspective, (2) an opportunity to provide for people without, and (3) ... shoes.
First, a flip of perspective. Most of us drift through the world seeing and experiencing it on one level. We see people without shoes and say "Hmmm, that's just the way it is," and we go about life. I am like that, but once in a while by God's grace I see behind something. I stop and feel something else, like that Bata rep, that flips my perspective. Our trip to Uganda with my three girls in two weeks is already doing that. There are people in the world that aren't supposed to just be turned around on, but loved, and helped and seen.
Second, an opportunity to provide. The African people in the story didn't have something they desperately needed, and the Bata rep saw an opportunity to provide it. Now, for them it was about money, and market-share and all that, but I am using it as an image for something else as I ponder it: me and my girls, and our fellow travellers, Sylvia and Linda have an opportunity to provide for those without when we leave in two weeks, and we aren't going to pass it up. What is the opportunity that we're presented with?
The third, and final image the story gives fills in the picture, and brings me to my point: shoes. Part of the trip we are going on has us working in an amazing school in Kibaale, Uganda with 1200 students, most of whom have one massive, tangible, and totally solvable need that we are going to try to meet: they don't own shoes or their shoes are worn out. Some of these kids walk one to two hours a day to and from school, not to mention the wear and tear of their work lives, etc., So, we are going to bless them with shoes. Boat loads of shoes. For all of them! The numbers break down like this:
• 1200 students
• $25.00 = 2 pair of shoes for each child (indoor and outdoor)
• $750 = a full classroom of 30 children
So, the total goal is $30,000 overall, which is not much at all when you realize it is serving and changing the lives of 1200 children! 1200 kids just like yours and mine. The girls and I, and our team, have been presented with this unique challenge and we want to do our best to meet it head on. You can give here: https://www.canadahelps.org/dn/29826
No guilt if you can't help, but do what you can, and if you do, let me know, as the girls and I we will sizing up the kids feet, and handing them their new kicks personally! Get your kids involved, we can take pictures to show them the personal impact their money can make.
So fun, and humbling, to bless and serve others in the name of Jesus,