April 8, 2010

I just kicked off my rainbow sandals, and now I am barefoot, drinking some (french pressed, snobbish, terribly yummy) coffee, and finishing my granola and almond milk.

But my feet are the point.

Today, I'm going barefoot as much as possible. It's something I used to secretly do when I interned at UPI. When the 'ol stilletos just got to be a little too much (about five minutes after I arrived), I just quietly slipped them off while maintaining a serious, composed posture...and I don't think anyone ever guessed.

However, the point today is not just that I'm going barefoot, but rather that I'm actually going barefoot for a cause.

What cause, you ask?

                                                (photo via citizen awareness)

The cause is Citizen Effect's is Debasso Podoconiosis Treatment Program in Ethiopia. The organization has asked that today be a day of awareness, through taking OFF our shoes, and stopping to think about what it would be like to go without them.

About the project:

"The village of Debasso is currently threatened by one of the world’s most neglected diseases, podoconiosis (podo). Podo is a debilitating foot disease that is caused by living barefoot in volcanic soil. It results in massive swelling and disfiguring of the feet and legs, and sufferers have difficulty working or even walking.

In Debasso, poor residents who cannot afford shoes are consistently exposed to the region’s irritating soil while working as subsistence farmers. As a result, as much as 5% of the village’s population suffer from the disease. Sadly, the stigma associated with podo is so severe that many who have it remain hidden in their homes for years, allowing the disease to progress and become more disabling.

This project will allow a rural health clinic that is working to treat podo to more than double the number of podo patients it can treat in Debasso and its surrounding areas. The clinic is supported by the local Mekane Yesus Church, but it reaches out to all podo sufferers, regardless of their religion. It currently is the only facility in the area that is working to treat and combat the spread of podo.

The project will fund the training and equipping of eight Podo Agents, former patients who have been selected to work to locate and assist isolated podo sufferers. These Podo Agents will be based from the health clinic and will work to identify and teach 140 people the basic methods for treating podo. They will also provide new patients with the materials and custom shoes that are necessary to improving their health. Large-fitting shoes for the patients will be made in the clinic's workshop that will also be funded by the project.

With proper treatment, these 140 patients will be able to return to their work and rejoin their community within several months. The project will finally also fund the establishment of network groups of podo patients to provide patients undergoing treatment with a source of peer support."

find our more here.

Donate here.

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Brittan said...

Hanson (yes, as in Mmmbop) do something like this. They have their fans meet for barefoot mile-long walks and partner with Toms Shoes for some of the walks. So cool.