Walking in someone else’s shoes

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These women walk for many miles carrying water on their heads.

They do many journeys from the village well to their vegetable plots to water their plants, often wearing only worn out flip flops on their feet. Some of the children and teenagers in the impoverished village of Bonsa, in The Gambia, have no shoes at all.

The UK charity BACE gave volunteers a “wish list” before they set off for Bonsa, of items which would be useful in the village. Shoes were one of the items on the list. Shoes were donated by individuals in London, Kent and Sussex. Some were sent to The Gambia in a BACE shipping container, back in November last year. Others were squeezed into suitcases and hand luggage carried by BACE volunteers who arrived in The Gambia last Monday.

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We gave some shoes to the ladies who carry the water. We gave others to children and teenage girls who had no shoes at all.

This is 11 year old Tida proudly showing off the shoes we gave her.

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Also some shoes were given to visitors to BACE’s new health clinic, to protect their feet from stones, rubble, sand and dirt and to help keep their feet clean if they’d had infections treated and dressed.

We had expected recipients to pick out practical, comfortable and hard wearing shoes, from the boxes we had, but we were surprised to find many chose the most sparkly, shiny and decorated shoes. I later found out that many were probably after a smart pair of shoes to wear to church.

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