The project was started during 2005/2006 by Estelle Raymond. Estelle started working with 5 young boys in the school as a volunteer while she was studying Narrative Therapy. It was an enormous stuggle for her to try to keep these boys (who also had serious behavioral issues) in the school. They where growing up in an environment where alcohol abuse was rife, and were subjected to neglect and abuse throughout their young lives. Often when asked why they weren’t in school, they answered that their shoes were broken or that they didn’t have shoes. There seemed to be quite a stigma attached to not having shoes. So in the end Estelle just bought them shoes and they went to school.

A little later, it all made much more sense to Estelle when she accompanied the Grade 6 and 7 learners on an outing, organised by Christa Steyn from Link to Grow, to the Castle, Planetarium and Slave Museum. They watched a video at the Slave Museum and as the surnames of the slaves rolled by, she realised that these children had the very same names! In the video it was mentioned that slaves were forbidden by law to wear shoes. So in her mind at it started making more sense why in this context, not having shoes was a sign of being an unworthy person (even though the boys were probably unaware of this).

Estelle initially received a small donation from a visiting Norwegian psychologist to buy apples for the children at Christmas, but with permission used the money for cheap tennis shoes for the children on 2 farms where the living conditions were really bad. The next year she wanted to buy shoes for the whole school and with the help of the psychologist and various friends managed to do so. Since then, ALL the children in the school get a new pair of shoes - this year (2015) will be the 8th year in succession. Link2Grow is very proud to be one of the sponsors of this project.