Control the Riot was recently invited to an evening at the South African Consulate in London to get to the heart and sole of Clarks ‘Soul of Africa’ project.
As I am the token South African on the CTR team, I eagerly looked forward to the evening and finding out what Clark’s shoes are doing to help fight poverty and HIV in South Africa and other African countries.
Our evening was most enjoyable and deeply moving, as we spoke with Lance Clark about Soul of Africa, his passion about the organization and beliefs in aid through trade. We met with Clarks store managers working in London about their interests in building awareness about the collection in-store and possibilities for the future of this project.
What is Soul of Africa?
When Lance Clark (Clarks Shoes) visited South Africa in 2003 he went to an orphanage whereby upon seeing the terrible condition of the orphanage, he was overcome with emotion and determination to help the children and impoverished people living in Africa. From this experience and many others during his visit to Africa, he co-founded Soul of Africa in 2004.
Where Clarks shoes steps onto the scene now in 2012, is through a collection of handmade ‘Soul of Africa’ footwear which has just been launched in the UK and US. The collection has been made by employees in South Africa, whose lives have been changed through training to become shoemakers and employed by Soul of Africa to make shoes for overseas distribution.
The collection exudes beautiful designs for men and women with hand stitched details and soft leathers, fitting in well during the autumn/winter season in the UK and US. The collection is available in stores across the UK as well as online at www.clarks.co.uk and all profits are put back into the community to help children in orphanages and suffering from HIV/AIDS. The shoes are reasonably priced, ranging from £35-£60, so why not support a good cause, knowing that the shoes you will be wearing are helping so many children and adults in Africa overcome poverty through employment and education? I know I certainly have my eye on a few pairs within the women’s collection!
The feel good factor
A lot of people feel that it’s difficult to make a difference when you are far away from those that need the help. But the reality is that every small action you take towards helping a cause will make a difference to someone’s life. This is what I learnt from Lance Clark, he is doing his best to increase awareness about Soul of Africa; encourage others to support a good cause, even if it be through a pair of shoes, because the small difference an individual can make by purchasing shoes from this collection enables others, albeit on the other side of the world, to have a job, feed their family and enable their children to have an education.
Since launching in 2004, £850,000 has been raised to help provide education to children orphaned by AIDS. 100% of all profits go back to Soul of Africa projects and the funding has helped over 30 projects dedicated to educational programmes and over 7,000 orphans have been helped through Soul of Africa. In 2010, over 80,000 pairs of Soul of Africa shoes were sold in the UK and US.
Lance said to me that when he was in Africa, he was told this: ‘If you give a man a fish, you can feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.’ And so, this is the heart and sole of the Soul of Africa footwear collection available through Clarks.
Keep a look out for the next article whereby I interviewed Lance Clark.