Hopefully you enjoyed yesterday’s post! Here is the rest of the story!
I was lucky enough to be a sizer for two of the days we distributed. Because I’m the kids shoe buyer I get asked a zillion questions everyday about kids sizing, and the sizing chart we have on our website has been a pain in my side since the day I started here (until my hero Bill came along and redid it for me! Yay!) So it was kind of funny that I would be a sizer on this trip. I say I was lucky to do it because it allowed me to see what the kids were wearing (or in some cases not wearing) before they would get their new shoes. Some of the kids had shoes but they were badly worn or just not appropriate for the conditions they live in. Children in America have a pair of shoes for every activity they do. Soccer or baseball cleats for sports, dress shoes for church, tennis shoes for play, here most have one pair of shoes for everything they do. Imagine trying to play soccer in boys dress shoes. And on top of that imagine those shoes being two sizes too small. Many of the children had no shoes at all and their feet were cut and scratched from everyday life. In the moment I wasn’t thinking of these things because I was trying to entertain the kids but it was definitely something I thought about once it was over.
The kids we helped this week were given Crocs and they treated them like gold. Many of us in the fashion industry think Crocs are silly and we would never wear them but these kids would get them and then rush over to the side to take them off and put their old shoes back on so they could save them. I saw one boy who just couldn’t decide if he should keep the strap on top of the shoe or wear it around his heel. They were so happy to have these new shoes and they could not stop smiling! Sometimes we would not have a child’s exact size so we would give them a size too big so that they could grow into it but I didn’t hear one single complaint. Some of the bigger sizes ran out quickly and we would have to take the child’s information so that we could send a pair to them later and again, not a single complaint. These kids stood in line with 100 other kids and not once did I see pushing or fighting. There was no complaining or whining. There was just pure joy at the fact that someone was there to help them and give them something they so desperately needed. Something that we all take for granted.
There is so much more I could say about these amazing kids and that has been my issue in telling everyone about my experience. When someone says to me, “How was Africa?” I’m not sure what the correct response is. Amazing doesn’t seem like the right way to describe it. While my experience was amazing it just doesn’t seem like the most fitting word to use. This trip made me think. It made me reevaluate a lot of things. It made me see how much joy I, one person, could bring to a child’s life. I was able to give them hope just by showing up. I was able to provide them love (even if it was just for one day) through a hug. Yes the shoes were important but listening to some of their stories or playing with them was just as important. So I think the best answer I could give to the question, “How was Africa?” would be, “You just have to go and experience it for yourself.”
And now you get happy pictures!!