Chandapiwa Baputaki ran the social media campaign Changing One Life a Million Times in 2015, through which she mobilised people from around the country to donate shoes for less privileged primary schoolchildren.
This campaign started a whole new trend in itself.
Baputaki says that after her successful campaign, many other organisations were formed and registered around the country to emulate the efforts of herself and her friends.
She says she initially started off by collecting shoes for pupils at Lesirane Primary School just outside Gaborone; to date the project has donated over 700 pairs of shoes to 12 primary schools around the country.
Baputaki says her motivation to start the shoe collection began when was assigned by her newspaper to do a story on Lesirane Primary School. The sight of pupils attending classes outside under the trees moved her.
Most of them were shivering in the winter cold, but what affected her most were those without shoes. One child had resorted to wearing slippers to school.
After speaking to the principal, she was told that 18 of the pupils desperately needed shoes, but in the end about 30 children received a pair.
Baputaki believes that having a pair of shoes can change the life of a less privileged child.
When Baputaki came back to Gaborone after a stint as a civil servant in towns outside the capital, she then launched the Changing One Life a Million Times shoe campaign on social media with the help of some friends.
At the time, their sole collection point was in Gaborone, but she says this did not stop people from different parts of the country sending shoes through friends or relatives coming to the capital.
The idea of donating shoes to children at primary schools has really snowballed and now even involves children at primary schools in urban areas collecting shoes for their less privileged peers in rural areas. One association in Gaborone managed to collect and donate 600 pairs of shoes to five different schools in the Kgalagadi district.
In August this year, one of the country’s major banks launched a shoe drive campaign, which they say will result in about 4 000 pairs of shoes being distributed to 12 schools across the country.
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