One of the main symptoms of leprosy is nerve damage, meaning people affected are unable to feel pain.
This leaves them vulnerable to burns, cuts and injuries that can potentially lead to severe damage to fingers, toes, hands and feet resulting in permanent disability.
Lymphatic filariasis can cause severe swelling in the feet and legs, making it difficult to wear standard shoes.
We make and supply free specialist protective footwear for people who are disabled and living with the effects of leprosy and lymphatic filariasis.
Each pair of shoes is carefully designed for every individual. One of our trained physiotherapists carefully assesses and takes measurements of disfigured or swollen feet and then prescribes a customised pair of shoes.
Our shoes provide comfort, encourage early healing of wounds and ulcers, and prevent further injury and disability. Critically, they also enable individuals who do have disabilities to continue to work and earn a living and children to return to education – preventing them from falling further into poverty.
Something as simple as having shoes that fit can contribute to restoring a person’s dignity and making them feel comfortable in their community again.
We began our first footwear project in 1995 and have since provided approximately 251,000 pairs of customised footwear.
Protective footwear production and podiatric care requires specialist knowledge and skills. Training opportunities in this area are very scarce, particularly so in the remote rural locations in which the majority of our referral centres are located. There is a current shortage of qualified shoe technicians; out of our 19 referral centres, 10 do not have regular shoe technicians or ulcer dressers. A single shoe technician can provide approximately 900 pairs of shoes per year. In 2020, we provided over 25,000 pairs of customised shoes, enabling people affected by leprosy or LF to walk without fear of damage or infection.
Just £6 can provide a supportive and protective pair of tailor-made shoes, giving vital support and comfort to the wearer. Your support could help us train more qualified shoe technicians so we can reach more people affected by these debilitating diseases.
We have mobile footwear vans helping to deliver footwear to isolated regions across India. Each van can produce approximately 10 pairs of shoes in a day, with each pair lasting around 5-6 months.
We currently have 15 shoe technicians who travel approximately 1,500 miles each year in our mobile shoe vans. Each van includes a sewing machine, a generator, a grinder for pressing soles and materials to make bespoke footwear. It also includes beds and cooling fans as the shoe technician and driver live in the van whilst covering the many miles between their destinations.
It costs £350 a month to train a shoe technician. To operate a mobile shoe van, it costs £50 per day or around £1300 per month.
Did you know we receive wonderful support from Pavers to support our shoe van projects across India – read more about how they are involved here
Watch our video to find out more about our customised footwear.