Your questions answered
How are the shoes distributed once they arrive into the country?
The Butterfly Movement works in partnership with global charity Soles4Souls (based in the USA). Together with this partnership we work with various organisations, including international non-profits, who distribute the shoes to those in need.
Shoes are distributed in various ways including one-off gifts to individuals and multiple shoes to individuals for micro-enterprise. (see more on micro-enterprise below).
Soles4Souls also run more than 20 travel trips each year taking volunteers into the countries (inc. Tanzania, Haiti, India, Costa Rica & Peru) to distribute the shoes. If you would like to join a Travel4Souls trip visit www.travel4souls.com. The Butterfly Movement will also be running trips to distribute shoes in the future.
How do the shoes help people?
Individual level: Shoes prevent parasite infections and also prevent cuts which can become infected. Parasites cause multiple health problems and impact school attendance, work opportunities and good health which leads to poor growth and development.
Micro-enterprise: In Tanzania, Togo and Haiti Soles4Souls educate people in micro-enterprise and assist them in becoming self-sustaining through setting up a shoe business which they run at their local markets. This approach helps to give them a hand-up which is critical in development.
More than half of the shoes donated are used in micro-enterprise initiatives.
What is micro-enterprise?
Micro-enterprise is small business. Through the provision of shoes to the men and women who have undertaken the training they are then able to begin their own business which they run at the local markets. This provides them with an income and a future which gives them hope. It is more than just a job.
Why focus on shoes when there are so many other issues within these countries?
Shoes play an important role in health promotion and the prevention of parasitic infections and disease.
One of the parasites found in Africa for example are jiggers. Jiggers or the chigoe flea (Tunga penetrans) is a parasitic arthropod found in most tropical and sub-tropical climates. Jiggers live in soil and sand, and feed on warm-blooded hosts such as humans, cattle, sheep, dogs, mice, and other animals.
Some sources also express a link between jiggers and HIV / Aids as unsterilised equipment is often used to remove the bugs from different people. It was noted that many people share a single pin to extract jiggers – this is a situation that exposes individuals to the infection of HIV from those who already have the virus.
Also, with little to no access to clean water or a doctor open wounds become easily infected, which if left untreated can be deadly.
Does providing shoes undermine their culture or economy?
Shoes are most often not worn because they are not accessible. We are strategic with our partnerships to ensure what is provided is what is needed and wanted in a way which protects the individual and their country.
What are the environmental impacts?
In Australia we often have shoes which are prematurely sent to landfill. By donating shoes to The Butterfly Movement and Soles4Souls the shoes are saved from landfill in Australia.
How does the influx of shoes impact the landfill within the countries the shoes are sent?
It is very common practice within these countries that items such as shoes are used until they cannot be salvaged further. While there may come a time when they will no longer be of use their life span is long and the benefits of the shoes will far outweigh any additional rubbish.
How much does it cost to ship a container of shoes to the developing countries?
The cost of collecting, shipping and distributing two 40 foot containers of shoes in Tanzania is $1 per pair of shoes. Each 40 foot container will hold approximately 25,000 pairs of shoes.
How is this paid for?
The cost of our first containers of shoes was covered by Soles4Souls. For future campaigns we will look for financial support within Australia while also being supported by Soles4Souls.
Are there and challenges with customs with sending used shoes?
While some countries will not accept used items we specifically work in partnership with countries who will accept the donated items.
Why not collect donations and purchase shoes in-country?
Most of the countries we work in partnership with do not have a big footwear industry. In countries like India however shoes are purchased in-country for distribution on the Travel4Souls programs.
From the shoes distributed. Do you have statistics on the number of people who have got out of poverty through the micro-enterprise and/or individual shoe distribution?
No, unfortunately this would be impossible due to the multitude of vendors that are served.
The largest scale programs we support are in Tanzania and Haiti. The distributors for those countries have been doing this for many years with Goodwill and Salvation Army – about 75% of their shoes come from them. Our shoes are mixed with theirs according to grade, sizes, etc. to ensure that the appropriate shoe goes to the appropriate micro vendor. So when the vendor receives shoes, it is a mix from these other charities as well. We do, however, do site visits to meet with vendors to ascertain their needs and understand the benefit they have received.
During a trip to Tanzania in June last year we were pleased to learn that the average vendor makes about $300 per month – roughly 3 times the wage of the average Tanzanian. We will also do ongoing assessment as the project continues in Tanzania and other developing countries.
With the shoes that are used for micro-enterprise in Tanzania does this cause problems at the markets between stall holders for people who already sell shoes? And are we saturating the market?
The recession has greatly decreased the supply of quality used shoes as people in developed countries hold on to their old shoes longer. We are not aware of any issues between competing sellers – especially since they have been in business for a while. As we train and recruit new sellers through our programs in Kigoma, TZ, we will keep an eye on these issues. But the strategy is to attract people in these more rural areas, so they won’t have to start in more established markets in Dar Es Salaam.
There are local shoe makers in places like Haiti and TZ, but our local agents there have told us that they make a different type of shoe then is available through micro. For instance, in Haiti, local makers make a specific type of Haitian dress shoe and traditional sandal, so the markets don’t overlap.
Does wearing the shoes for a long time cause other infections because the shoes become un-hygienic?
No, particularly when you take into account the much greater risk of injury and infection from having no shoes. Also, don’t underestimate the hygiene standards of people in developing countries.
How many people have you set-up through the micro-enterprise in Tanzania?
We have supported thousands in TZ. It’s impossible to know how many people got their first inventory of shoes from us given that we are not the first charity to supply micro in TZ.