Here at Moeloco, our mission is to help fight the extreme poverty still rampant in India today. You may be aware that over 300 million people, including children, do not own a pair of shoes as a result of extreme poverty. You may know that this continues the cycle of poverty, by keeping children out of school, and increases the risk of dangerous infections. But have you ever imagined how it feels to live in poverty, even at an extreme level?
Imagine for a moment…
You live in Kolkata, near the eastern coast of India. A country where great wealth and beauty clashes and contrasts with the most severe poverty and human rights abuses; you can see both ends within the space of an hour. For this moment in time, you are on the far less privileged side of the scale.
You live with your two daughters in conditions little better than a slum. All of you sleep in the same room. Electricity is limited; you may have lighting, but must use fuel for cooking, which produces noxious fumes. You share a toilet with other families, which is unsanitary. Your husband left when your second child was born, as he believes that daughters are useless; you have not seen him since then. There are times when your brother supports you financially, but it is not often.
As a teenager, you were forced to marry at only fifteen, because your parents had always been labourers who were never able to afford the education of four children. This is your drive to work hard every day, so your own daughters can grow up to pursue their own dreams. You do not want them to marry young, or have to work as children. When you were only five years old, your older sister left with an aunt you had never seen before to find work; you wonder what happened to them, but something tells you that your daughters must avoid the same situation.
Imagine that you are amongst the humidity, noise and chaos of the streets. It hasn’t been long since sunrise, but you are on your way to work. Where are you going? You work in a textile factory, which can take up to two hours to reach. Here, you spend eight or nine hours performing labour-intensive work, usually six days a week, with strict targets and punishments if you fall short of meeting them. Supervisors often give inappropriate comments, or even grope you, but your complaints go ignored and further action may cost you your job.
All of this earns you approximately 6500 rupees, or $127 Australian dollars, a month. You usually have enough food, but sometimes you do not when expenses arise. Often, a family meal consists of rice with a few vegetables. You are currently saving for your oldest daughter’s school uniform, shoes and any other supplies. She is in Standard 6, and you consider her lucky; you had to leave school in Standard 4. You are concerned that you may not be able to meet her additional hygiene needs when she starts her period, which may cost her school days; however, she is fortunate that you can access clean water at a community tap close to your home, something you didn’t have as a child. It isn’t long until sunset when you leave work for the long journey home, where you cook, clean and eventually go to bed, to start a new day all over again. Owning your own car, dishwasher or other modern luxury is just a dream. Life is hard, but you have a sense of hope that things will be better; you’ve never forgotten how to smile.
Mother’s Day is in a few short weeks, and if you’re shopping for a present, a pair of Moeloco flip flops may just be the perfect gift. As each pair of Moelocos donates one pair of shoes to a child in India, you also give a mother the gift of a healthy child, able to attend school and break the poverty cycle. By adding on a sari bag, you are also helping mothers learn new skills, earn an income and start their own business. To purchase a pair of Moelocos, click here.