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Contact: Sara Orr
June 20, 2003

Ecosandals.com brings help, self-sufficiency to some of earth's poorest in Nairobi, Kenya

Washington, DC - Ecosandals.com co-founder Matthew Meyer was named the winner of one of only four prestigious national Jefferson awards, the so-called "Nobel Prize of Public Service", on Wednesday at the Kennedy Center in Washington. The Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by An Individual Under 35 Years of Age has been given to the likes of astronaut Sally Ride, Apple founder Steven Jobs, singer Faith Hill, and cyclist Lance Armstrong. But this is the first time the award, named after Delaware's Sam Beard, has been given to a Delaware resident.

In 1992, while a junior at Brown University, Meyer studied abroad in Kenya. There, he was exposed first-hand to how human beings survived in a developing world slum. Along with a Kenyan peer, Benson Wikyo, Meyer founded Ecosandals.com, which now sells footwear around the world and has offered quality employment to as many as 30 residents of the renowned Korogocho shantytown, outside Nairobi.

"There are 8 to 10 million human beings living in the greater Washington metropolitan area," Meyer instructed the Kennedy Center audience at the June 18 awards ceremony, an audience which included actor Kirk Douglas, Jack Valenti, and former Senator Harris Wofford, among others. "Six hundred sixty million human beings live on less than one dollar daily. Yesterday, Michael Karuri woke up in Korogocho, Kenya...He rushed to work where customer email messages from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Pullman, Washington, and Stockholm, Sweden awaited him." He closed by particularly imploring the youth in the audience to address today's social problems at their roots. "I went into a shantytown at the age of 20 and thought I could do something, so I thought I would. Now an increasing number of Korogocho residents are working hard to control their own lives, their own individual destinies. If you can, you should. If we can, we must."

The other three national award winners were Condoleezza Rice, Anne Douglas, and Dr. Mathilde Krim.

Meyer, like all Americans working for Ecosandals.com, is a volunteer. The Kenyan project survives completely on its sales revenue. Ecosandals.com recently began selling its sandals directly to retail outlets, a growing number of which now stock its sleek and unique footwear.

To learn more about Ecosandals, please visit http://www.ecosandals.com.
To learn more about the Jefferson Awards, please visit http://www.aips.org.

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I am Kwamboka, an Ecosandals shareholder and sandal-maker. Please hear my story (and don't forget to friend me on Facebook).

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