Ethiopia—Saving Soles

Volume 18, No. 3 | Summer 2015

Saving Soles from a Disabling
Foot Disease in Ethiopia

Adamena was a fresh-faced bride of 17 when she first noticed the swelling in her feet and legs. The teen never suspected that walking barefoot on the irritating volcanic soil so prevalent in her Ethiopian village could be causing her condition, podoconiosis, or podo for short. When it began to affect her appearance and ability to walk, Adamena's husband abandoned her. With no education or job skills, she had nowhere else to go but back to work, still barefoot, on her parents' farm.

(Photo credit: Corina Mararu/IOCC)

Her condition only grew worse, making it more painful and difficult to be on her feet. It is a tragic situation that is repeated too often across the country's rural areas. More than three million Ethiopians suffer from this disabling disease and another 38 million are at risk for podo. Working in cooperation with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church-Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission and podo expert, Dr. Gail Davey, and with support from TOMS, IOCC has developed a patient-centered model to prevent and treat this neglected tropical disease. Since 2009, IOCC has provided shoes, awareness, treatment, and foot care supplies to more than 300,000 children and adults suffering from or at risk of developing podo.

Adamena came to one of IOCC's six podo clinics after learning about it from local elders. Clinic staff treated her feet and taught her the importance of washing her feet and wearing shoes to prevent the disease. Now 20, the young woman is on the road to recovery as her swelling and walking ability improve every day. Smiles come more easily to Adamena now as the improvements fuel new hopes to be active again and build a better life for herself.

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