WATCH | How this invention is saving thousands of lives
While volunteering at an orphanage in Kenya, Kenton Lee encountered a young girl stumbling along Nairobi’s dusty streets.
Looking down at her shoes, he couldn’t believe what he saw. “She cut open the front to let her toes stick out,” Lee says.
Due to the rapid rate at which youth’s bodies develop, kids in impoverished communities are often forced to go without appropriate shoes or barefoot.
This leaves them vulnerable to soil-transmitted diseases and parasites which can become fatal if not treated. To prevent this, Lee designed a fitting solution – The Shoe That Grows.
“When your only mode of transport is on foot, shoes become essential,” Lee says. Travelling long distances barefoot, many kids fall seriously ill and subsequently drop out of school.
After returning to his home in the United States of America, Lee spent six years developing a durable, leather sandal with easily adjustable straps.
The revolutionary footwear is designed to expand up to five sizes, ensuring that children are protected from harmful diseases throughout their adolescence.
To provide shoes to as many people as possible, Lee founded the non-profit Because International.
Today, his simple invention has transformed 300 000 lives in over 10 countries. Giving disadvantaged youth the growing footwear, Lee and his team are equipping them with the ability to lead healthier lives.
“I want to help kids be in a better place to succeed, and something as small as a pair of shoes can do that,” he says.
But Lee’s efforts haven't stopped there. In 2019, his organisation began the production of a new and improved design in Kenya, supplying 12 full-time jobs to locals.
Putting himself in the shoes of others, Lee has paved the way for a brighter future for all.