Dan Khanh lives in Ho Chi Minh City, in Vietnam. She started a charity project called Warm Feet with her school friends, Ha Nhu, Khoi Nguyen and Huyen Anh, to help provide children in uplands Vietnam with used shoes.
Warm Feet started because my mum had a trip to Sapa, in the north of my country. The children there are impoverished. They have worn shoes and some of them don’t even have shoes. My friends and I wanted to do something. We made a plan to get started and thought we would figure out what we needed to do from there’.
For the first few months we talked to lots of people, trying to convince them to donate their shoes. That was probably the hardest part, because we had no credentials and no popular organisation behind us to earn people’s trust immediately. Later on, we had been working long enough and hard enough for people to stop questioning, ‘Why should we trust you?’
We worked through social media and did call-outs to people at our schools. We went from class to class talking to people: ‘Just give us two minutes, this is what we’re doing, this is why you should help us and it doesn’t really cost you anything. Just be supportive and be active about it’.
We collected shoes at our high school and the schools we went to when we were young. Other people also send shoes in because they know about us from online.
We used our pocket money to get started and fortunately, the cost at first wasn’t very high. Because we actually went to the places and asked the people to donate we didn’t need a lot of money. Our logo was given to us by a designer – he was a friend of the family – and we only paid for printing a few posters.
We were also offered interviews with some newspapers and radio programs to help spread the word. If people want to donate and they don’t have any old shoes they can send us the money and we will buy the shoes for them. I have found a distributor in the wholesale market.
The first time we sent out shoes, we sent out 75 pairs, because that was all we had at the time. But now, we’ve sent 1,058 pairs in total.
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