In the past, the school pupils of Omaungete Mobile School in the Kunene Region would set off to school barefoot.
With help from six education students from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in the city of Tacoma, Washington in the United States of America, they are now able to walk to school in comfort and safety.
Inspired by the moto ‘The Shoe that Grows’ initiative, PLU students, who are currently on an exchange study group in Namibia, shipped 100 pairs of shoes and donated them to the pupils of Omaungete Mobile School.
Made of leather and compressed rubber similar to that of a car tire, the shoe’s design allows a child to have a shoe that will always fit and will last them at least five years. In addition, the anti-bacterial synthetic material will benefit the students’ health and allow them to travel to and from school safely.
The PLU students, with the help of a translator, described the idea of wanting to complement their visit to support educational endeavors to the pupils and teachers of Omaungete. They presented the idea of raising funds to purchase shoes that grow five sizes, a project from “The Shoe That Grows,” a branch of the NGO “Because International.”
Prior to traveling to Namibia, the university students, with guidance from Dr. Janet Weiss, a professor in the faculty of education at PLU, discussed how to ascertain if shoes were appropriate for the mobile school community. In order to ascertain whether the school community was interested in acquiring shoes and that the shoes were appropriate for the climate and terrain, Dr. Weiss spoke with a community member familiar with and connected to the mobile school project.
The roots of this project began after Dr. Jennifer Rhyne, a music education professor at PLU, learned of the students plan to travel to Namibia. She shared her experience with The Shoe that Grows, and helped the students with logistical aspects of the project.
The distribution effort at Omaungete Mobile School was facilitated by Dr. Janet Weiss and locals from the region. Throughout the process students were encouraged to learn more about the best approach to engage and support the community. Students experienced the warmth, motivation, and appreciation from the teachers and pupils and also gained a glimpse of the challenges faced by Namibian students living in remote areas.