Reuse, recycle, repair seem to be the golden rules for shoes in Malawi. If the sole of your shoe gets worn through, if your heal breaks loose, if you need some touching-ups, you take it to the shoe repair man. These are conveniently located in a market place, but can also be found along the side of the road – especially busy roads – and are distinguished by the hanging row of shoes that have become so worn as to be irreparable.
It’s not that new shoes are not available – they are in stores with big glass windows and stacked displays – but there is a certain resiliency and resistance in Malawi that enables the lifecycle of shoes to extend longer than we might imagine. Of course, a new pair of shoes is a treat for anyone and a lady wear a new pair of dressy sandals is bound to show them off. The point is though, there are shoes – cheap plastic shoes from China, expensive shoes from South Africa and Europe, repaired shoes from men in the markets.
Malawi doesn’t need more shoes sent in bundles from well-intentioned donors who spend a day walking barefoot in order to develop blisters, scrapes and empathy. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/blake-mycoskie/one-day-without-shoes-its_b_523190.html Malawians need stronger businesses and access to markets to be able to earn a decent income so that they are able to buy whatever shoes they want, when they want them.
So rather than spending a day walking barefoot, spend a day thinking about the supply chain of shoes. Spend a day thinking about how to develop sustainable businesses in Malawi, and take meaningful, intelligent action. http://www.ewb.ca/en/whatyoucando/index.html
This post is part of a series in support of A Day Without Dignity campaign led by Good Intentions are Not Enough.