People with disabilities often face social prejudices that leave them feeling excluded from society.
As the world learns to be more inclusive in its attitudes towards people with disabilities, much more needs to be done. Pakistani footwear brand Soma is playing its part this Ramzan in collaboration with Special Olympics Pakistan through its Soma Care outreach program.
The upcoming line will include shoes designed and painted by Special Olympics athletes. All proceeds will go directly to the athletes. Revenue generated from each shoe will be given to the person who made the shoe while Soma will cover all production costs.
For Samia Akram, CEO of Soma, it’s a way of giving back to society. “I love working with them,” she says, “I just feel more useful in life. When you run a business, you get lost in day-to-day problems and wonder if you’re doing the right thing. When I work with Special Olympics athletes, I feel like I’m giving back.
Athletes make their creations on paper, then reproduce them on the material used to make the shoes. Soma’s karigares (craftsmen) then sew the shoes together. The result is a product that shows the power of collaboration between different groups in society.
“The whole process makes them feel like they’re part of society,” says Akram, “They feel appreciated and independent, and that gives them so much confidence. It gives them happiness, which makes me happy.
Soma has led this initiative for five years, working with Special Olympics athletes every few months. Previous lines have been received with great enthusiasm, says Akram, and people are always willing to support the effort. The upcoming line will launch within the next two weeks and will be available year-round.