The cheap, colourful footwear of children at Co-ID schools has a serious purpose. Soil-transmitted helminths, parasitic worms, can be transmitted through the soles of the feet, as well as through poor hygiene. Each of our schools has two toilets, and while they are not the most glamorous of options, a properly functioning bathroom is a major part of keeping children in school. Neglected tropical diseases such as those caused by helminths often prevent children from going to school. A plastic shoe (and a decent bathroom and a place to wash one's hands) can be a literal life-changer for a child born on these mud islands.
Looking wider, the whole problem with little children walking for long distances through mud was behind how Fred Hyde Schools were set up – no big schools, small primary schools of 200-300 children right in the communities.