Never take shoes for granted – Tucson teens deliver footwear to kids in Kenyaby kenya on Jun. 23, 2012, under Life
June 22, 2012
By Allie Ward, St. Gregory Class of ‘13
Seeing that my last post talked quite a bit about shopping, it’s only appropriate that I would continue in that fashion, only with this dispatch being about shoes. As many of you know already, St. Gregory was able to collect hundreds of pairs of shoes this year thanks to the leadership and determination of student Athena Roesler. Last year Athena taught at the school I’m teaching at now, Gitinga. When you walk into the school, you see smiling faces, but as you take a closer look you notice that there are some kids without shoes, and some with shoes that are falling apart. With such an obvious issue, Athena presented an obvious solution. She made it possible for this year’s group of St. Gregory students to give every child at Gitinga a pair of shoes. She spent hours collecting shoes and raising money to buy even more shoes – enough to fill eight duffle bags to transport to Kenya. The process of handing them out, however, was a hectic one of trial and error!
When we first arrived at Gitinga announcing to the headmaster that we had a wonderful gift for the students, we had assumed we would just lay out all the shoes in a classroom and have a little shoe store where kids could pick and choose. Unfortunately, the reality was that it would be too difficult to use an entire classroom and the students could potentially end up fighting over shoes. With that, a new idea formed. We were going to label each pair of shoes with a child’s name and simply hand them out. With that came another problem – what if the shoes we gave out didn’t fit their assigned person? By the end of this week, we decided that the most chaotic method was the best alternative. Instead of having any organization, we simply took the bags of shoes to Gitinga and personally fit each of them. We had each class sit on the ground in a line and we took a pair of shoes we thought might fit them and continued until we found a match. Regardless of the method the outcome was still the same: 198 smiling faces and shoe-fitted feet.
It’s truly amazing how much we take our shoes for granted. The children at my Gitinga and the other schools walk every day, there and back. The material covering their feet accompanies them to and from everywhere they go. There are no cars for them to ride in or buses to take. Their feet and shoes take them everywhere. And you can bet that the shoes on their feet are the only pair they have. It was magical seeing their faces light up when we dumped duffle bags of shoes out in front of them. They were so excited, and for something as simple as shoes. It was so wonderful that we all got to experience their joy when we one by one kneeled down in front of them, asking if their shoes were “mzuri” (good). Thank you again Athena, the kids say jambo (hello) and asante (thank you) to their friend in America!