George “The Shoeman” Hutchings
Founder, Shoeman Water Projects
George P. Hutchings, 64, of Ballwin, Missouri, aka “The Shoeman” is an adventurer, visionary, and former Marine Sergeant.
George was the youngest man in America to earn a Ph.D. The story goes with many embellishments. He was 18 years old on a battlefield in Vietnam and was shot three times in the right hip by an AK47. After the Med Evac he was given a spinal tap and put in a body cast in a Da Nang hospital. The General came by, put a Purple Heart on his chest, and that became a Ph.D. in slow ducking! George is an expert in ducking too slowly! He forgot his first combat instructions…duck! A true story with humor.
As sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, George was awarded a Purple Heart; he was put in a body cast and evacuated via a rope litter on a C-130 transport plane. The plane stopped to refuel in Alaska. During that stop, the back door of the plane opened and the frigid air came rushing through. A blonde nurse saw the shivering Marine, covered him with an extra blanket and tucked him in. George never saw the woman’s face, but he fell in love. That random act of kindness gave the fallen Marine the grit to want to live another day. That moment became defining in the young man’s life.
After graduating with a Master’s degree from Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary of Fort Worth, Texas in 1980, George officially began a series of humanitarian services.
In 1994, George founded Eagle Wings Ministries, a 501(c) (3) charity dedicated to humanitarian and educational opportunities. In 1997 a Kenya student crossed his path. John Kihumba was about to be deported. John had a litany of problems. The two overcame financial problem, school status problems, and employment problems. In assisting John, trips to Kenya followed.
Since 1998, George has visited Kenya repeatedly. In 1999 the two delivered 30,000 pairs of shoes to orphans and refugees. George was sad because there was still a nation of shoeless people. On that trip the team was visiting a medical center in a town that had not had water in 30 years. The clinic did not even have a band-aid. A bus pulled up and the driver pushed out a pregnant woman. The woman was in labor and the passengers helped the woman to the clinic. George’s team delivered the baby with no water, no receiving blanket, no suction device, no crib, and no cradle. And 20 minutes later it happened again. This was another defining moment. George knew he could not turn away.
In 2002, George fed 21,000 meals to orphans and refugees but he was sad because they would be hungry the next day. A pipeline of medical supplies and dental labs was created. There was no end to the supplies needed.
In 2007, John Kihumba was running for Member of Parliament and was murdered. George thought his work in Kenya was over.
In 2008 George attended Living Waters International water drilling camp in Houston, Texas. He learned how to drill simple water wells. It was time for the pilgrim to reflect. On the plane home the plane’s engines produced a dull roar blocking out conversation. In the silence the cards of life began to come together. For 10 years George had been seeing people desperate for water. He knew how to drill for water. With knowledge comes a responsibility. At this moment George knew he would be delivering Kenyans water.
In 2008, George established Shoeman Water Projects to focus specifically on delivering clean water. After a decade of travel and humanitarian missions in Kenya, he realized that without clean water, all other aid would not matter.
George developed a truly unique way to make the water run. He started collecting donated shoes, and sold them to an exporter who in turn sent them to street vendors Chile, Kenya, and Haiti. The funds generated in 2008 were used to purchase 3 water-drilling rigs. Between August 1, 2008 and June 2012 four water-drilling rigs have been delivered to Kenya. Three were donated to “Water for Kenya.” Numerous water purification systems have been purchased and distributed in Kenya and Haiti. With more than 2 million pairs of shoes collected since 2008, the organization is bringing clean water to an estimated 200,000 souls.
Currently, “The Shoeman” is collecting shoes to purchase a water-drilling rig that will drill through granite and go 1000 feet deep. In Kenya 23 rivers have gone underground and deeper drilling is required. Shoeman Water Projects is in the process of positioning itself to deliver water to the global community. Invitations to work have been received from India to the Sudan. The work in Kenya and Haiti continue. A major effort is being planned for Haiti in January 2013,
We anticipate the purchase of our first major drilling rig will happen in 2013. With this rig we can drill 50 deep wells per year turning Kenya desert into an oasis. You are invited to walk for water with us.
Learn more about George’s life and thirst for clean water in his book, Combat Survival – Life Stories from a Purple Heart.