I went barefoot today as a part of Toms One Day Without Shoes. It’s a simple idea to raise awareness for the millions of people who go without shoes every day and face dire consequences. Not having shoes can lead to cuts and sores that can get infected and lead to serious medical problems. Some kids can’t even go to school unless they have shoes. And the fact that really grabbed me: Approximately one million people in Ethiopia suffer from a debilitating and disfiguring condition (podoconiosis) that’s completely preventable with shoes.
Something as simple as shoes (like water) can make a big difference. I never would have thought of shoes as being the difference between life and death before. But that’s the reality.
If you’re not familiar with them, Toms is a company that wants to put shoes on shoeless children. For every pair of shoes you buy, they’ll donate a pair to a child in need. It’s a cool concept (though I haven’t bought any of Toms shoes). Another way to help put kids in shoes is with the organization Soles4Souls (I mentioned them a while back).
I don’t know if I actually raised much awareness going barefoot (other than Twitter and this blog), but I do think it was valuable. Last fall I went homeless for a night and I remember someone made a comment (I don’t know if it was directed at me or not) that they didn’t understand what good it did to pretend to be homeless. I get that perspective. Pretending I don’t have shoes and going barefoot for a day doesn’t really help a child with no shoes. And going homeless for a night doesn’t directly help a real homeless person. But it’s not so much about directly helping them as it is about changing me.