Our heart here at Embrace a Village is to meet both the spiritual and physical needs of our patients. One way we do that is through our shoe ministry.
For the thousands of people suffering from leprosy in India, a pair of shoes could save their life.
Our patients can’t feel when they cut their arm or stub their toe because leprosy attacks the superficial nerves in the skin. We see wounded and disfigured feet all the time, and if left untreated, amputation is often necessary.
Because of this, we are passionate about our Shoe Project! In an effort to help patients guard against foot infections that can also spread throughout the body, we introduced our custom shoemaking operation.
Since the beginning of our ministry in 2004, we have provided over 14,000 pairs of custom shoes for our patients.
Every one of our patients receives a pair of shoes to protect their feet. Because of the disease, each foot is different and every shoe has to be custom made. We have a shoemaker who travels to the colony to measure the foot. It is a time-consuming process, but so necessary and worth it.
After the initial fitting, the shoemaker constructs the shoe at our base in Coimbatore, then returns to the colony to size the shoe. He returns to the base one more time for final stitching and then finally, after a lot of care and attention, the shoes are delivered back to the patient!
Before we go today, we wanted to share a quick story about our friend, Saloon.
She is a new patient living outside the leprosy colony in the Salem/Attur area. Saloon lost her left leg to amputation six years ago and when we met her, she needed urgent medical care for her right foot.
Her only source of income had been to go out on the streets and beg for her daily bread.
After we met her, we made arrangements to take her to a private hospital where the second amputation surgery was performed. After the second amputation, Saloon was released from the hospital on May 10th and is now back at Embrace A Village – initially at our hospice house, but will be taken to our rehab center.
Saloon’s story is one of many – the need for shoes and protection of their feet is vital to the survival of this horrible disease.
That’s why our shoemaker travels thousands of miles to ensure each and every pair of shoes fits the needs of the individual patient. We are so thankful to be able to provide this type of care to our patients and have high hopes to serve many more in the years to come!