Speaker Sneak Peek: Manny Ohonme

 Manny Ohonme

Manny Ohonme, Samaritan’s Feet International

Manny Ohonme was inspired to start Samaritan’s Feet International after his difficult childhood in Lagos, Nigeria. Growing up, he didn’t even have shoes. His life changed when a stranger from Wisconsin gave him his first pair of shoes. He went on to get a full basketball scholarship in the U.S. and eventually earned a Master’s degree in International Business.

Although he became successful, he never forgot his home country and has been giving back since the founding of his nonprofit in 2003.

Here, Ohonme reveals what he’ll discuss at TEDxCharlotte on Feb. 15!

TEDxCharlotte: What do you plan to talk about at TEDxCharlotte?

Manny Ohonme: [The title is] POWER OF YES: How a Pair of Shoes Changed the World.

TEDxCharlotte: How can one pair of tennis shoes change a child’s life and how they they feel about themselves?

MO: We use shoes as the vehicle to provide dignity to shoeless children by reaching out to impoverished individuals, while protecting them from infections and diseases. We also use our distributions as a public service platform to encourage students to stay in school and dream big dreams. We serve each person by washing their feet, engaging them in conversation with a message of hope, and fitting them with a new pair of shoes, socks and sometime backpacks and school supplies.

Samaritan’s Feet is not just a non-profit – we are a community of more than 70,000 volunteers who have joined together to make adifference in the lives of children and adults in need across America and in every corner of the world. To date, we have helped over 4 million impoverished children and adults in over 60 nations.

To see the smiles and joy on each child’s face says it all.

TEDxCharlotte: What are your future projects this year?

MO: Samaritan’s Feet has numerous projects scheduled for 2013 with a plethora of ways to get involved. [One is] Barefoot for Bare Feet, a movement of groups and individuals committed to involving others in accomplishing our 10-10 in 10 goal of Samaritan’s Feet. This effort involves thousands of coaches, business leaders, teachers, politicians, pastors, entertainers and many more using their platforms by performing their jobs or various activities barefoot to provide a voice for the 300,000,000 million children who walk every day in their bare feet. To host a Barefoot 4 Barefeet event visit www.samaritansfeet.org.

by Joanne Spataro