Leaving a Footprint on Children's Lives
Africare/Liberia and Africare/Malawi are helping communities hold a better future in trust for the next generation

Africare is not only interested in helping communities improve their present circumstances. We also know that a sustainably prosperous Africa depends on healthy, happy children capable of realizing the tremendous potential of the continent’s future. With strategies ranging from training mothers how to grow diverse backyard gardens and prepare more nutritious meals, to making schools safer through improved sanitation and clean water access, Africare prioritizes supporting and positively engaging Africa’s youth.

Students in Liberia already eagerly putting their new TOMS Shoes to use. Photo: Africare/Liberia

It was therefore only a matter of time before Africare joined forces with TOMS. We announced our partnership just last October, and shoe distributions are already afoot! With TOMS’ One to One® model, for every pair of shoes they sell another pair is given to a child in need. TOMS partners with organizations already active on the ground to ensure their shoes add value to ongoing development projects. That’s where Africare comes in.

In their target regions, Africare/Liberia and Africare/Malawi have noticed the negative effects on children of going barefoot, and each country office has begun distributing new TOMS Shoes to the communities they reach through their current health, agriculture, and water and sanitation projects. Many families in these countries consider shoes a luxury they cannot afford, focusing their resources instead on the priorities of food and other basic items of clothing. In addition to the risks of cuts and infections, especially in areas lacking improved sanitation sources like latrines, going barefoot can result in poor self-esteem and often prohibits children from attending school because they don’t fulfill uniform requirements. None of these consequences bode well for the pleasant present or fulfilling future these children deserve.

Africare/Liberia has implemented numerous interventions to help protect children’s health, such as expanding vaccination coverage, providing bed nets to prevent malaria and fostering school health clubs to reinforce health education. Two of Africare/Malawi’s primary project goals are supporting orphans and vulnerable children and improving sanitation and hygiene. Using the channels already established in these projects, Africare’s Liberia and Malawi teams are providing shoes to students, orphans and vulnerable children through local schools and parents.

Malawi’s Mulanje District Commissioner Jack Ngulube noted that this is the first shoe distribution in the area, and District Education Manager Gossam Mafuta has already remarked on increased school attendance just in anticipation of the project.


A pupil addresses the crowd at Africare/Malawi’s TOMS shoe distribution launch event. Photo: Africare/Malawi

At a recent launch event for the Africare/Malawi distribution, there were many thanks to go around, with Africare/Malawi Country Director Enrique Maradiaga thanking TOMS for the shoes; thanking his staff for their work on the distribution; and thanking the event’s guests of honor—local chiefs and traditional authorities, school staff, local civil-society representatives and members of local government offices—for their willingness to work hand-in-hand on this project. We at headquarters would also like to thank Mr. Maradiaga for coining the phrase that became this article’s title!

The event included many displays of thanks from community members and pupils, for which we at Africare are especially grateful. We are privileged to serve our community partners, and we will continue striving to leave a positive impact through our current work and our future projects.