47ºF

Liberty University student's 2-year effort brings in more than 20,000 shoes for children in Congo

photo
(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) - Emmanuel Ntibonera is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He saw what health conditions bare feet cause children there, and now, after two years of work, and a lot of help, he has more than 20,000 shoes to send them.

Seeing the Vine Center at Liberty University full of shoes destined for the Congo is more than Ntibonera could have dreamed when he started his mission two years ago.

"Coming here today, that it's getting a lot of attention, there's a lot of people that want to be involved, it's blowing my mind, I'm surprised," said Ntibonera.

Ntibonera is a graduate student at Liberty University, but he grew up in Africa under very different circumstances.

"A lot of these kids actually, they have never put on a pair of shoes since they were born. The first time I had a pair of shoes I was 10 years old," said Ntibonera.

Liberty University heard about Ntibonera's quest to gather shoes.

The school reached out to Kickin' It, a non-profit run by alumni Chirs Strachan.

"He said what if we did a convocation service and we made it a Kickin' It thing and we got you involved, what do you think about that? I'm like, that's right up my alley let's do it," said Strachan.

Strachan says he made an initial video to get people interested.

"I started the video off with my sneakers that I donated, so my video kicked the whole thing off, and it kind of spread out through social media from there," said Strachan.

Now, two years after his effort began, Ntibonera has the support of hundreds of people, corporate sponsors, and the result is more than 20,000 shoes.

"My greatest joy is to provide a pair of shoes to these kids, and having all these people want to help is unbelievable," said Ntibonera.

The shoes will be shipped to a storage facility operated by the non-profit Gleaning for the World Thursday morning, to be prepared to be shipped overseas.

Ntibonera says he plans to make the trip to the Congo himself to personally hand shoes to children in need.