An informal research conducted in the UK says that on average a woman owns 30 pairs of shoes. However, out of these 30 pairs of shoes, only 5 pairs are worn constantly while most of the remaining pairs are sitting in closets collecting dust.
In Qatar, one woman thought of an idea to collect new or preloved shoes and donate them to women affected by the pandemic, while at the same time she helps protect the environment by preventing these pre-owned shoes from ending up in the landfills.
The ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) team got in touch with Dutch expatriate Elsbeth Blekkenhorst-Tammes to get to know a little bit about her and her ‘Shoes for Dreams’ project. Let's find out!
Elsbeth: Hi, I’m Elsbeth - a Dutch national with a passion for living and working internationally. We moved to Qatar from London 11 years ago, for my husband’s job. It was in 2010, shortly after we moved, it was announced Qatar was going to host the World Cup in 2022. The place exploded, there was so much energy!
In my first year, I worked for PwC and then set up my own recruitment agency Global Women Qatar with my business partner. We placed expat and Qatari women in roles with local and international companies.
Elsbeth: During the pandemic, I started my campaign ‘Shoes For Dreams’ - to collect shoes for women (feet) in need. I collect preloved shoes in good condition which I donate to women who have been hit by the pandemic. I mainly collect women’s shoes but occasionally also receive men’s and children's shoes. They are donated to the expat community in Qatar.
Elsbeth: The initiative has been very much welcomed by the Qatar community. I meet the most wonderful people who want to help. People with beautiful stories and with whom I connect by talking about life and the pandemic, how that changed us. Beautiful shoes are being donated and are being given a second life.
Elsbeth: I love driving around Qatar to collect the shoes in person and meet the people donating them. It’s such a great way to connect. If anyone would like to donate, you can reach me through social media or by email: [email protected]
Elsbeth: When the explosion in Beirut happened I instantly started the campaign for the people being affected. In a short time, many shoes were donated. It was amazing to see how people offered their support. I decided to make this campaign an ongoing one and still collect preloved shoes today. New, or in good condition.
Elsbeth: The project has two goals: helping feet in need and keeping these preloved shoes out of our landfills. Both people and our planet are taken care of.
Elsbeth: Other activities that keep me busy are my shoe collection and my new dress collection. During the pandemic, I made the conscious decision to design a sustainable dress collection. I want to look after our planet. I want the women who wear my designs to look and feel fashionable, empowered, and confident in a sustainable dress. In collaboration with my dear friend and mentor Sonali, I just launched my 3 designs in 6 different prints, blocks printed by hand in Jaipur. Made from Modal which is 100% biodegradable.
Elsbeth: My message to the people in Qatar is to enjoy life in this amazing country to the max. To see all the beauty and opportunities around that Qatar gives you. To keep meeting beautiful people from so many different cultures and backgrounds and to make friends for life.
Elsbeth: Keep your dreams alive and make sure you realize them!
Image credit: Elsbeth Blekkenhorst-Tammes
In an interview with Celine Dion, she admitted to owning 10,000 pairs of shoes that she can't dispose of due to a personal connection with each one. How about you, will you give away your shoe collection if it is for a good cause? Let us know in the comments section below, and please do share this article — it keeps us going!
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