Right now, a population of children, the size of the USA, are walking around without shoes. This year one million of them will die from illnesses contracted from being barefoot. As they say, imagine the world to be 100 people in a room, 40 would have no shoes, almost half of those would be kids.
(Above and Below) Children on city dumps, some at play, most foraging for scraps of food, all of them shoe-less.
Boys in Ghana, sold by their parents into slavery in the fishing industry. Their bare feet susceptible to many water borne diseases.
Today is Father's Day. To that end I thought I'd mow my dad's yard. Thing is, his yard's about 3 acres and it's hitting a hundred degrees everyday. Oh and did I mention his riding lawnmower is busted....
So about 4:30 p.m. on Friday, temperature hovering about 98 degrees and heat index in the 110s, I got dad's push-mower from where he keeps it under the trailer and filled it with gas. Then I thought of the children, the shoe-less children, and I decided to mow in my bare feet. Now this was less about some defiant act of solidarity and more because I cannot really imagine their lives, their daily allotment of sorrow and needless suffering. They say you can't understand a man (or child) until you walk a mile in their shoes....I suppose the opposite holds true too. So shoe-less I mowed.
After an hour, with soles full of briers and stone bruises and two rather nasty little puncture wounds I thought, "it's time to put my shoes on." But of course that's not really an option for the 300+ million shoe-less children of the world. So I willed myself on for another half hour until dark was approaching and the yard not going to get mowed unless I made better time. So I put on my shoes and double-timed it til dusk.
A few of the crop circles I did while mowing...
Later as I scrubbed the dried dirt off of my feet, cleaned my scrapes and gouges, and sat tired on my parents couch, I pondered the life of the modern child slave and this blessed life we've been given. The luxury of a bath, the decadence of soap, the impossible comfort of that couch, and I was sad, so desperately sad for the shoe-less kids.
Child with Podoconiosis, a disease contracted from absorption of silica particles into bare feet.
I'm so thankful for my dad. I remember a pair of soccer shoes he bought me in high school that easily cost him a day's wages. And I remember his face in the stands each match even after a 12 hour workday. I am surely blessed. Happy Father's Day dad.
And for the kids, here are some great organizations that provide shoes:
Of course Tom's. Where a pair of new shoes is donated for every pair purchased, a million so far.
Soles4Souls. Where as little as a dollar provides a pair of shoes for a child and where recycled shoes can live again and even give life. 15 million shoes and counting!
Share Your Soles. In 1999, SYS founder Mona Purdy traveled through Central America, and saw children painting tar on the soles of their bare feet so they could run a race during their village's festival. She happened to meet an American orthopedic surgeon who was visiting the village. He told Mona that if these children had shoes to wear, there would be a lot less need for him to regularly travel to the region to perform amputations of children's infected limbs. Since then SYS has donated well over 1 million pairs of shoes.
So, for all you dad's out there, Happy Father's Day from COH!! And for those of you that have lost your dad, or never knew him, you are dear to our hearts and in our prayers this Father's Day weekend. And for the 163 million orphans in the world, those with shoes and those without. Let us all be their fathers, their mothers, the family they have been denied.