When Dr. Joyappa Achaiah Saw The Lack Of Footwear In Villages And Slums, He Decided To Take Matters Into His Own Feet…
‘Barefoot no more: UP schoolkids to get shoes’ read a headline in The Times of India in August 2017. What started out as campaign proposals in January, ended with 1.78 crore primary school children walking to and from school with shoes and socks – something that Dr. Joyappa Achaiah had worked tirelessly for. As we sit down on a bench in Cubbon Park, he digs his feet into the mud and recalls his journey.
“We had been doing multiple drives to educate the girl child, on women’s safety and environment protection. But these are initiatives that many other NGOs have taken up. The one thing that everyone needs, is footwear. It’s not just a part of attire, but essential protective gear and everyone deserves to wear it,” Dr. Achaiah says.
Dr. Achaiah did away with his footwear and walked to work barefoot for 100 days from May to August 2017, keen to make a point. Proposals of his campaign were sent to former Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, actor Akshay Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the concept grew in the minds of the public as more people came forward to believe in it. “A lot of people stared. They saw us well dressed and driving cars, but when we came out of the car we were barefoot. It was fun sometimes, but not always. Sometimes you dig your heel into a piece of glass and you’re limping for a few days. Then you remember why you’re doing it,” says Dr. Achaiah.
He says that though the campaign gathered a lot of mileage in those months, it has been a struggle to keep it going. “The ones who asked us why we walked barefoot, were the ones who made the difference because they wanted to be part of the change. We held a collection drive at various MNCs and sent many shoes and slippers to the villages – they would have been thrown away otherwise.”
While world-famous footwear brands sell shoes and slippers at exorbitant costs, Joyappa believes that the bare minimum is what the people in several cities do not have. “Some people are buying shoes for twenty, sometimes thirty thousand rupees. It hurts, really. That much money can buy shoes for an entire village. Slowly, I want to make sure that every village in the country has access to shoes and can afford the least.”
To be a part of his cause, call him on +91-99802-59781 now.
This article is a part of the #HeroesWearBlue campaign, where we bring to you stories of Bengaluru’s heroes – people among us who strive for a better world. Do you know an everyday hero? Tweet to us @bengalurufc now!