WINFIELD — When Andrea Cole talked with a schoolmaster in Zambia this May during a school trip about providing shoes for his students through her and her sister’s Honduran Soles initiative, the schoolmaster said something startling.
“He said, ‘That’s not going to help them,’” Cole said. “It took me aback ... But what he meant to was that they need an education.”
What Cole, a junior at Messiah College, found out was that while the education system in Macha, Zambia is free and well-established, families must purchase a school uniform to enroll their children. And at $20, the uniform is too expensive for many of the families in the community.
“Most parents cannot afford that,” she said.
Cole then knew she and her sister, Emily, a freshman at Eastern University, had to help. Then came word that Emily would be travelling to the same village in Zambia in May 2014.
“That was like a confirmation from God,” she said.
The sisters are now preparing to lace up their own shoes for a 20-mile charity run, with the sisters hoping to get sponsors to donate $1 per mile to the cause. It’s called the “20 for 20.”
The run will take place in the Lewisburg area on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Cole said. The sisters hope to raise enough to send enough money in May to sponsor 250 school uniforms.
“I know we can do it,” she said.
The sisters have also already begun collecting black, closed-toed shoes to complete the uniforms.
“We’re still incorporating the shoes,” Cole said. “But now it goes beyond that.”
By providing young people with an education, it opens the doors to better jobs in the community, Cole said.
But despite the poverty that exists in the community, the Zambians Cole met while traveling there were full of life and love, she said.
“They were so content with life, that was so memorable to me,” she said. “They loved life and appreciated life ... They made us feel so welcome.”
And Cole said her parents are onboard with the latest expansion of their mission work.
“Ever since I was little it was my dream to go to Africa, so they knew when I came back, I would be changed,” she said. “They don’t really doubt us. They’re always so encouraging; they believe in us so much.”
To donate to the Honduran Soles “20 for 20” run, email: HonduranSoles320@gmail.com, or send donations to Honduran Soles, 560 State Route 304, Winfield, PA 17889.