Have you ever wondered where our flip flops come from? Here is the story of Jacklyne, one of Ocean Soles oldest flip flop suppliers. She has been a part of our team for nearly a decade so there is a very high chance that your sculpture has been made using some of the flip flops she has collected!
Jacklyne has been supplying flip flops for Ocean Sole since 2012. She is a tall woman with a gentle face and beaming smile. When she comes to deliver flip flops she brings her daughter, Esther, who smiles her way around the workshop and into the office to say hi to all of us.
She joined our team after her husband, who was also once a flip flop collector, started a new job. Jacklyne has five kids who she puts through school and feeds from the income she makes from our flip flop collection scheme.
Jacklyne has lived her whole life in Dagoretti, Nairobi and before joining us she worked a few different jobs doing bits and bobs. She visits us regularly to drop off tonnes of flip flops that she collects from Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums.
Kibera suffers greatly from poor waste management, which leads to vast amounts of unwanted rubbish that scatters the streets and clogs the waterways. While the rubbish creates the harshest living conditions, many Kenyans have found a silver lining in this eyesore through waste collection. Much like Jacklyne.
On a day she collects flip flops, Jacklyne starts with a nice cup of hot sweet tea and a mandazi (deep-fried doughnut styled pastry). Then she sets off in a minivan, or “matatu” which is a form of local transport, from her home to Kibera. This journey takes her around 30 minutes on a good day.
When she arrives, she begins wading through the waterways of what used to be a wetland off Nairobi. She sorts the flip flops into two categories, reds and blues go into one sack and all the other colours are put into another. This is because Bata, which is Kenya’s largest footwear and flip flop manufacturer, comes in either red or blue.
Jacklyne will spend around two weeks a month collecting flip flops. In her last delivery, she collected a total of 255kgs! While she is doing a phenomenal job and helping clean up the waste, there seems to be a never-ending supply of flip flops coming from Kibera.
For many of our flip flop suppliers, the collection scheme provides their only form of income. A job that is flexible and although it requires a lot of work a one-off delivery can support a family of 7 for a month and a half.
We are always in awe of our flip flop suppliers, their motivation comes from wanting to help clean the planet while making an income. While the journey of our flip flops begins when they end up in landfills, waterways and ultimately into our oceans, their story starts when they are collected by the hands of a team of hardworking and dedicated Kenyans.