One of my pet peeves is that I can't find durable footwear. Every year my sneakers seem to wear out faster than the year before.
But that is a lament of the privileged. For children in developing nations who are lucky enough to get shoes, they do not last long no matter what their construction, because children outgrow them. Thus Kenton Lee, who formerly did missionary work in Nairobi and witnessed this firsthand, has invented a shoe that can be adjusted to fit growing feet.
Lee collaborated with ex-Adidas and ex-Nike veteran Gary Pitman to create The Shoe That Grows, a durable leather and rubber sandal with snaps and buckles for size adjustment. They've gotten the price down to just $10 a pair, and can stuff 50 pairs into a duffel bag, which they then ship off to developing countries around the world. And they're designed to last for five years.
As you can see, the clever design can expand at the heel, at the toe, and laterally.
The need for these shoes far exceeds simple human comfort; without them, children are susceptible to groundborne parasites and simple cuts that can get infected—which turns into a major problem in underdeveloped areas.
Over 2 billion people suffer from soil-transmitted diseases and parasites. They live in areas that do not have adequate sanitation. They struggle with proper hygiene. They do not have the right clothing, resources, or health coverage. And being sick = struggling. Kids miss school, can't help their families, suffer with pain. Many of these diseases and parasites get into the body because people don't have shoes.
Happily, the team's currently-running crowdfunding campaign successfully hit their $50,000 target (though you can still donate by hitting that link if you'd like to help).
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I am worried about whether they can last for 5 years. My shoes were always one year thing when I was a kid.