ARMY spouses Lindsey Edgell and Amy Wilson came to BATUK, Kenya alongside their serving partners and saw how different life was for the local community.
They heard many reports of children needing footwear and after visiting schools and orphanages to see for themselves, witnessing many children with ill-fitting shoes or no shoes at all, they decided to do something to help.
“We knew that some of these children had to walk miles in these shoes and we thought it would be a worthwhile cause if we could give a little comfort,” explained Lindsey. “As mothers, we know the importance of growing feet and having the correct sized footwear to support healthy growth, but these children had shoes that were falling to pieces and causing blisters or crippling toes.”
Amy added: “There are so many areas of poverty here and we wanted to make a difference somehow. We had heard stories of children accepting shoes that were too big or small just so they had something to wear, so this is where the idea started.”
The pair decided to ask for support from friends and family in the UK and began by speaking to the community engagement team at BATUK to gauge how receptive they were and how the idea might be received.
“Having got the green light from them, we sent out a plea on Facebook and received amazing support with people asking to send shoes or donate to the cause. And so Supporting Little Feet was created,” said Lindsey.
Lindsey and Amy created a Facebook page with details on how to donate and posted updates about the project.
With so many donations coming in, they’ve appreciated the help from the military community to get stuck into sorting, pairing and sizing the shoes, as well as scoping recipient locations to ensure the donations were getting to the children most in need.
“The community engagement team has been a great help in finding new schools and orphanages to go to and giving us support as we try to visit places that are not normally used to receiving donations,” explained Amy.
“By doing this we know we are helping children and families who really need it and raising the profile of BATUK and the army in harder to reach areas.”
“We want Supporting Little Feet to carry on by passing it on to new military families when we leave but thankfully that’s not for another year for myself at least,” said Lindsey.
“As we all know, kids’ feet grow fast and we feel it’s something that can continue to be a great project for BATUK.”
Nicola Green, an army spouse and former AFF co-ordinator in Kenya, said that Lindsey and Amy have done a ‘wonderful job’, including encouraging newcomers to Kenya to accompany them to schools to see the difference they are making in local communities.
“The project has bought the BATUK community closer to the local community and has offered families in both the UK and Kenya the chance to make a real difference in a child’s life,” explained Nicola. “This has all been done in their own time and, with their dedication and hard work, they have gifted more than 1,000 shoes.”