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We’re collecting shoes for Cameroon with the Shoe Aid Project

Statistics show that women have on average twenty pairs of shoes in their closets. Sneakers and Slippers were not included in the average. Men have on average fewer shoes, only ten pairs at half the rate of women. The exception is soccer star, Jerome Boateng, who reportedly has over 650 pairs of premium footwear. Most of our shoes never see daylight. Statistics als o show that most have probably six shoes in rotation depending on the season. Or about half of our shoe collection is actually worn. Many shoes remain unworn, stuffed with newspaper inside their travel bags.

“How many shoes does a person actually need?” is the question Gerald Bogba Fonkenmun asked himself. Since 2001, he’s been working in social development, health, and education, founding the Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization with offices in Berlin and Bertoua, Cameroon. Together with family and community, his team develops projects and programs serving disadvantaged populations in Cameroon. 

The Shoe Aid Project is a donation project and shoe recycling program that collects shoes and distributes these shoes to children and their families throughout Cameroon. Once Bob saw a box of shoes in his housefloor in Berlin and the idea for the Shoe Aid Project came to him: a second life for shoes in Cameroon. When Bobga came to Germany he realized that shoes are a common luxury that was accessible to anyone who wanted to have the right shoes for the perfect outfit on any occasion. While many have several pairs in Europe, others may have only one pair or none at all back in Cameroon. 

Situated on the Gulf of Guinea, Cameroon is often celebrated a “Little Africa” because of its diverse landscapes. The country inhabits every climate zone on the continent of Africa: coast, mountain ranges, tropical rain forests, savannah, and even deserts. The citizens of Cameroon number over 25 million and speak 230 dialects, though French and English are official languages. A beautiful, but impoverished country. Almost a third of its residents subsist on $1.25 daily. In Cameroon there are countless people who go daily without shoes, because shoes are luxury in Cameroon. People go barefoot to school, work, or play, endangering themselves to elements. Wounds on the foot soles become the gateway to sickness from blood poisoning to a number of infections that are preventable with adequate footwear. 

You’ve probably already noticed the Shoe Aid Donation box in our Prenzlauer Berg Store. The box is designated for Cameroon. Bobga came to ZEHA in the Summer of 2021 with this idea. We were and remain enthusiastic to support the project. Bring your shoes, especially those in the darkest corner of your closet back to light and donate today.

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