Your discarded shoes can save lives; two athletes are refurbishing shoes for the poor
Started by Mumbai-based athletes Shriyans Bhandari and Ramesh Dhami, Green Sole is an initiative that collects discarded pairs and refurbish them only to gift them to those who are barefoot for the lack of means to buy even a pair of shoes .delhi Updated: May 26, 2017 15:43 IST
We discard several pairs of shoes every month without an iota of awareness that your old pair can save someone’s life. According to a report by World Health Organisation, 1.5 billion people get infected by diseases that could be prevented by wearing proper footwear.
And that realisation pushed two Mumbai-based athletes to change that statistic, one pair at a time. Shriyans Bhandari and Ramesh Dham, three years back, started an initiative, called Green Sole, under which they collect discarded footwears, refurbish them and gift them to those who can’t afford to buy even a pair for their feet. The duo has helped more than 50,000 people, mostly in rural areas.
“As athletes, we ran hundreds of kilometers every year, and would dump three to four pairs of shoes every year. Their soles would be in good condition, however, the sides were in bad shape. We discovered that they can be refurbished into trendy slippers and used again,” says Bhandari.
“It takes one hour to make one pair of shoes reusable. The shoes are then distributed in the rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat,” says Bhandari.
That brainwave lead to an eco-friendly enterprise, they have now given themselves an ambitious target: no one should be barefoot by 2023. Bhandari informs that every year more than 35,00,00,000 pairs of shoes are discarded and if they are reused, millions of people wouldn’t be barefoot.
The two have been getting praise from many, including the former President of USA Barak Obama. “I sent a letter to Obama about our initiative, along with a copy of my book (Birds of Aravalli). He replied appreciating the initiative,” says Bhandari.