Shoe Distribution at E.G.O./Haiti

I remember putting a pair of shoes on my son Nate, who was about 4 years old at the time. “These are too small - time to give them away” I announced. “NO! Those are my favorite Spiderman sandals! I don’t want to give them away!” he pouted. “Nate - they don’t fit you anymore, so we’re going to share them so another little boy can enjoy them”. “Momma!” He exclaimed “ALL little boys ALREADY have shoes!” I looked at him in amazement, and realized that in his privileged little world, he doesn’t even know a child who doesn’t have shoes.

While previously in Haiti, we learned that the kids at Eden Garden Orphanage (E.G.O.) share everything – toys, clothes and shoes. The girls will take turns wearing the pretty dresses to church, and when we bring items to give to the kids, they are kept and shared communally. Before the S.o.S. Missions Team left for Haiti, Pastor Ann had an idea to do a shoe drive for the 27 children currently living at E.G.O. During the March visit, she created medical records for each child, and traced each child’s foot on a piece of paper. Back at New Hope, packets were prepared containing each child’s footprint along with their picture, name and age, asking for a new pair of sandals and sneakers for them. As the congregation got word of the collection, the 27 packets were quickly swiped off the table in the lobby, leaving many potential shoe-shoppers disappointed. Off we went to Haiti, with Pastor Ann hauling 2 suitcases full of shoes for the E.G.O. kids.

While in Haiti, we attended the local church on the E.G.O. grounds, and a little girl sat on my lap during the service. When I looked down at her feet, I noticed that her white patent-leather shoes were not only too small for her, but that the straps were broken so that she could only wear them like slip-on shoes, the heel bent down to accommodate her foot that was too large (see picture). Just after this, we gathered all the kids together and presented them with their brand new shoes. Each child’s name was announced and they came up front to sit in a chair, where they were given a personalized fitting (as if in a shoe store). Some kids even received notes written by the New Hope families that had purchased their shoes. Shy and excited, they proudly tried on their new sandals and sneakers and smiled. It was fun to observe their joy with such a simple gift! I wonder if any of those kids had ever even worn a brand new pair of shoes before - shoes that weren’t used and worn and passed down from someone else? Well, at least for right now, they have two new pairs of their very own.