Thursday, April 9, 2009

Step by Step

The other day I went shopping for a new pair of shoes.

As I walked the aisles looking for my size, I was struck by the magnitude of it all. Floor to ceiling, wall after wall of shoe boxes filled with new shoes. Running shoes, walking shoes (is there special shoe for those of us interested in a periodic casual jog without the actual effort of a “run”?). And the prices! Seems like a pair of simple sneakers these days starts at about $75 a pair (I guess you could say I hadn’t been shopping for shoes in a while).

And in my musings of shoe selection and price my thoughts wandered – as often is the case – to Tanzania.

Walking with children along a rutted dirt road littered with stray sticks, stones and dry leaves. More than one child balancing on their head a bucket of water from the river, or a bundle of firewood as we carefully skirted deep crevices and potholes in the dirt road and each made our way home.

Glancing down at the children’s feet, I see shoes that are worn and full of holes; plastic sandals held together with string; sandals handmade from old tires; or more sadly, the child who doesn’t own a pair of shoes.

As I glance upward and see a pair of new $100 shoes on the shelf before me, I do a quick calculation. With the same $100, I could buy a dozen pair of sturdy shoes in Tanzania for the children – NEW shoes – not the USED shoes that so many Tanzanian parents buy for lack of money.

I think back again to the day last November when Roland and I went shopping for children’s shoes in Arusha, Tanzania. We were looking to purchase 100 pair of children’s shoes with the generation donations we received from so many “Hearts in Unity” supporters in the States. It took all day, but we finally accomplished what we had set out to do.

It was an amazing day when we distributed the shoes to the 100 orphan and at-risk children whom we had gathered together. The air was charged with anticipation as they waited so patiently. And on that day, 100 delighted children received brand new shoes!

What a blessing! Thanks to the kind hearts of so many people.

Yet, thousands of children in our Tanzanian villages are still without a single pair of proper shoes.

As I look down at the new pair of shoes I had selected for myself, I remind myself that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. And with our first gift of shoes to the children of Tanzania we had taken our first step.

1 comment:

  1. I know most of these children walk to school and I can imagine the kind of trouble they have walking in worn out pairs of shoes.