By Sarah B Lange under Philanthropy Stories on March 11, 2021

Did you know that thousands of children in 20 countries now have shoes that grow with them because of PHILANTHROPY?
It’s true!

In 2007, Kenton Lee traveled to Nairobi, Kenya to work in a small orphanage. One day, he was walking down a dusty road with the kids, when he noticed a little girl walking next to him whose shoes were so small, she’d cut open the front of her shoes to let her toes stick out! Then he started noticing that many children were wearing ill-fitting, damaged shoes – or none at all!

A simple pair of shoes can not only protect a child’s feet from injury, but also help to prevent exposure to harmful parasites and infections. But even if a child in a developing country has a pair of shoes, they are likely to quickly outgrow them. For many people, buying new shoes every year is simply not an option.

Returning to Idaho, Kenton felt he had to do something. He knew that millions of children around the world are in need of resources to improve their daily lives. Millions of children die each year from preventable causes. Hundreds of millions more suffer illnesses that prevent them from being healthy and attending school.

He gathered a group of friends to help him turn his ideas into reality. Six years later, they founded Because International, with a mission of giving children better lives.

They believe that poverty is a problem we can solve together (I agree!). Their vision is to promote sustainable change that will create a world where families can provide everything their children need. But, until that time, they know that kids are struggling, suffering, and sometimes dying from not having key resources for their health, education, and more.

Building a better shoe was their first big project. They produced the first Shoe That Grows in 2014. These durable leathers sandal can be adjusted at three points and can grow by five sizes. Because the shoes are made with sturdy, quality materials and simple snaps, they can last for up to five years. Thousands of children in 20 different countries are now using The Shoe That Grows!

The next project they took on was the Bednet Buddy, because Malaria threatens roughly half of the world’s population. The most susceptible group to malaria illness and death are kids ages 0–5. This is because many children don’t live in a dwelling with a roof or ceilings – and might sleep outside – and are exposed to mosquitoes and the illnesses they carry. By distributing these portable, pop-up tents (which are treated with long-lasting insecticide) they’re hoping to significantly reduce the number of children who get sick and die.

Because International – with a staff of 13 — develops products that can help kids around the world be more healthy, attend school more often, and be more confident. They work with NGOs around the world to distribute their products to those who need them most.

What could philanthropy make possible for YOUR organization? What would be different if you developed this kind of laser-focused approach to the problem your organization was born to solve?

SO – What’s YOUR shoe look like? Is there a Bednet Buddy project in your future?
And how can I help you get there?

Stay tuned for more stories of innovations that have been Powered by Philanthropy!

Meanwhile, if you’re facing a challenge or have a burning question that needs to be answered, you can book a free 15-minute Pick My Brain Session by clicking here.


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