My time with Mike, as descibed in my last post, inspired me to think long-term about the future of what was now Uganda Shoe Trees. Over the past three years, I have spent nearly six months on the ground in Uganda developing the project and partnering with other like-minded people to form Shoe Tree Educational Support, a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) registered in Uganda. We are currently registered as a 501c3 charity in the state of Texas and pursing US Federal charity status.
What I love the most about Uganda are the people with whom I get to work. The feeling of goodwill and gratitude from our partners is impossible to describe. The rewards on a personal level are just as impossible to count.
The smiles on children’s faces when they receive their first pair of school shoes is contagious. The thank-you from the parents, teachers and administrators is humbling. Experiencing life-changing moments with those who travel with me inspires me toward more. Watching the development of this project feeds my hope.
To date, Uganda Shoe Trees has raised over $25,000 from thousands of people around the world, and delivered 1700 pairs of shoes to orphans and needy children in seven partner schools.
Our Shoe Tree Educational Support partner Let’s Go Green has established orchards with over 2500 fruit trees plant in five of our seven partners schools with more orchards on the way. In addition, we have been able to purchase a 3 hectare plot that will serve as the model orchard to train our partner schools to care for the trees that have been planted.
Our shoe supply partner, Barefoot Uganda, has expanded from one couple hand-making shoes out of their home to a small storefront with our original cobbler and four staff apprentices learning how to become entrepreneurs themselves.
In addition to our Executive Offices leased in Kampala, we have purchased land in a strategic location that is now our base of Field Operations. Construction on the Field Office and Residence is scheduled for completion later this year.
I can’t emphasize this enough. All of this is because of the generosity of people just like you. Thanks for being part of this wonderful journey!