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PodoconiosisWho could have thought that a pair of shoes could be so important for preventing a terrible disease?
While most of us consider shoes to be a basic element in our wardrobe and sometimes a fashion statement, for many people can be the difference between life and death.
I’ve just learned about something called “mossy feet” a disease scientifically known as podoconiosis that is very prevalent in the higher altitudes of Ethiopia, among other African countries. Only in Ethiopia there are between 500,000 to 1,000,000 people suffering from podoconiosis and many millions at risk.
And how can it be prevented?
Just with a pair of shoes…
This disease affects people working barefoot in volcanic soil. This soil contains microscopic particles of volcanic glass, or silica, which penetrates through the skin into the lymphatic system.
Then the feet and legs start to swell, open sores and ulcers develop and on top of that the feet become infected with fungi and bacteria and they grow keloids. This leads to terrible and painful deformities that can make walking or wearing shoes almost impossible.
The person will suffer from pain and itching making work much harder, will be ostracized by the community and sometimes starve to death.
Once acquired the disease it can’t be cured, but it can be treated with great success with vey basic medicine and hygiene, so that the affected person can regain life back.
But what is most important, podoconiosis can be eradicated forever, just by wearing shoes.

There are a couple of projects to provide shoes to people at risk of getting the disease. You can contribute with any of them, just by donating money for the Mossy Foot Project or by buying a pair of shoes for yourself at Tom’s shoes, and they will donate another pair to people in need of one, so there will be no more suffering from podoconiosis.

Mossy Foot Project
Mossy Foot UK
Tom’s shoes