Hi, I'm Guli! I come from a long line of shoemakers in Darfur. We used materials and designs that came from and are perfect for the desert, and embody the traditional Sudanese philosophy of “Mut Khalli (موت خلي)”; the idea that the shoes would be worn by their owner until they left the world.
Taking steps towards a life free from conflict, I myself had to leave my world, Darfur; and make the arduous journey through the Sahara Desert, Libya, Italy and France. I sought refuge in the Calais Jungle for 8 months. This place inspired me, creatively- the lack of abundant resources was not unlike my semi-arid home, and I wanted to show those around me that with a little imagination, we could make useful things from the resources available.
During an Art in the Jungle initiative promoted by European organisations, I used my shoemaking knowledge to craft long-lasting and comfortable sandals by upcycling car tyres found strewn about the campsite, which was built on a former landfill. My project gained traction, as it was the Jungle's only shoe company, and became successful. I was selling and gifting the Jungle Shoes to friends, newcomers and volunteers.
Jungle Shoes are a symbol, representing the resilience and creativity that endures, even through the trials faced by displaced people who sought shelter in the Jungle. Each step taken in Jungle Shoes represents a step towards a different world; whether that is expanding access to freedom and opportunity for all, or facing up to the consequences of unchecked waste and climate change, and contending with our carbon footprints.
I made it to the UK in 2016. I began participating in TERN's early-stage business pre-incubator Ice Academy in April 2020, and since then I have designed six different sandals for men and women. I am also planning a workshop offering, so I can teach others to make their own sandals and accessories from car tyres, and how to repair their Jungle Shoes. I believe that sharing this knowledge will enable others to reassess and reuse the resources available to them, and will grow a community of people who seek to make cool things out of waste.
Join Us - Slash your footprint!