Photograph — See Trail

African innovators are constantly demonstrating that there is no limit to harnessing in-built potential. A young talented Ugandan has recently discovered value and wealth in transforming old tyres into shoes.

Determined not to be limited by his vulnerability, Innocent Byaruhanga, a former street child, developed a trash-to-treasure idea. He has since extended the innovative idea to quite a number of youths that roam the streets in Uganda, with the aim to build a shoe industry. Byaruhanga initiated this by empowering destitute children between the ages of 12 to 24 years through his Pamoja Center and has trained over 80 children since the center became operational in 2011.

Hinged on the principles of creating a Ugandan-made, Ugandan-owned product from what could be termed “durable trash,” Byaruhanga has contributed his own quota of community services through his non profit, NGO – Save Street Children Uganda (SASCU), which he established in 2005.

Byaruhanga did not explain the process of shoe making in detail, but it is widely known that shoes have been made from tyres in other parts of Africa like Ethiopia and Rwanda prior to this, showing that the knowledge has diffused from other parts of the continent into Uganda.

Whether in Ethiopia, Rwanda or Uganda, the shoe making process is similar. From the tyre, a shoe-maker marks and cuts out shoe size and pattern, engaging other materials– shoe adhesives, sewing pins, threads, laces (if needed), utility knives, big scissors and hammers, amongst other materials.

Byaruhanga dares to be different even though his creation is not new; he envisions building the Pamoja Center into an industry in Uganda. This way, he will be offering hope to vulnerable children, jobless youths, and disadvantaged people.

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