ELDORET, Kenya – Shoe4Africa is a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve young lives and reduce poverty through public health and education awareness.
The organization was founded in 1995 by runner and humanitarian Toby Tanser in Eldoret, Kenya. Shoe4Africa takes donations to provide African people with shoes that can be used for everyday wear and sporting events.
The organization aims to educate young people about health and fitness through hosting “Run for Peace” marathons, allowing donors to sponsor runners, providing scholarships for promising athletes and teaching health education, particularly related to HIV/AIDS awareness.
According to UNICEF, poverty reduction begins with children. Youth that grow up in poverty-stricken homes are more likely to perpetuate the cycle with their own children. By providing young people with health skills and knowledge now, Shoe4Africa serves to provide more children with the tools to escape poverty in the future.
The foundation also focuses on women’s empowerment and promotion for peace. In 2006, Shoe4Africa hosted two of the largest women-only events in Kenya and Tanzania. Over the last ten years, Shoe4Africa has held a Run for Peace race near refugee camps around Africa.
In 2011, the first annual Shoe4Africa 5k race took place in Manhattan. Tanser says the shoes donated for race-runners encourage a healthier lifestyle.
“Running shoes prevent hookworm and promote a person to adopt a more healthy lifestyle,” Tanser said. “We don’t want to just hand out shoes; we hold races/events so people earn shoes.”
Shoe4Africa opened its first public school in 2011. Located in Kimn’geru, a village in Eldoret, the school is equipped with a dozen donated laptops and textbooks for students to use. The foundation has opened three other schools close to Eldoret, and will be completing its fifth school soon.
In August of 2015, Shoe4Africa opened its first public children’s hospital for east and central Africa. Partnering as a teaching hospital with Moi University in Eldoret, the facility holds up to 105 members and will provide hundreds of thousands of children with health care and coverage. A plan to open a second Shoe4Africa children’s hospital is currently underway.
“A healthy young population is a less burden on a growing country,” Tanser said. “By building a strong foundation of health we are creating a brighter future. It should be a global priority that every child has a right to public healthcare.”