SFJ is committed to supplying children and adults with shoes because many serious health conditions start with the feet. Cracks, cuts and injuries are almost never treated and can lead to serious infections, amputations and even death.
In addition to external abrasions, a bare foot is particularly at risk of infection by hookworm. In fact, children living in Africa are about 60 times more likely to be infected by hookworm than other parts of the world. Transmission of the hookworm parasite can be directly linked to walking barefoot in unsanitary conditions, and it causes debilitating health issues if not treated properly.
A recent fact from the World Bank indicates that only 24% of the rural population of Sub-Saharan Africa have access to improved sanitation, compared to 42% of the urban population. Even in cities, less than half of the population have toilet facilities that provide safe hygiene options.
In rural villages there are usually one or two public village toilets with no sewage system whatsoever. Wearing shoes instead of walking barefoot offers protection and safety by reducing the risk of exposure to parasites like hookworm, pathogens, and hazardous substances that affect public health.
Foot trauma, parasites, and unsafe sanitary conditions are something we see first-hand during shoe distributions, and we know that a simple pair of shoes offers health and safety in an essential way.