501(c)3 Non-Profit | Empowering Haitian Families

Sandals that grow on Trees

I wish I had a tree that grew sandals. And tennis shoes.
Everyday as I walk the streets in my neighborhood (been trying to get out and exercise more) a host of street kids greet me and usually walk with me. They show me their shoes. Day after day, their sandals are broken, their shoes have holes. Day after day they want to go to school but can’t because they don’t have the proper footwear. I have become a bit numb to their pleas as I know that they will go through their cheap flip flops in about two days and then they will need to be replaced again. ( Haiti terrain is not good on shoes or tires!). I can’t fix everything I tell them. I explain that I don’t have money for “aid” as I am too busy paying my working artisans. The kids have learned to stop asking me for shoes everyday and life goes on…. they still seem to  love me even though I can’t give them everything they want.
But yesterday something hit me. I was walking home by myself and saw a little girl about the same age as Keziah on the side of the street just weeping. I took a closer peek at her face and saw that she was one of our very own artisans oldest daughters and she was pretty far from home. Thinking she was lost or being picked on, I approached her and asked her what the matter was.
She picked up her flip flop in complete desolation and sputtered through tears,
“Sandal mwen te kase!!!”
My sandal broke.
The part between the toes had detached from the sole and she was desperately trying to stick it back in and figure out how to anchor it. The recent rains have brought mud and water and sandals or shoes become all the more important in these seasons.
I have become used to being unmoved by the needs I see everywhere ( as one could not function in Haiti without some level of turning the constant needs “off”), but in this moment I was moved. I piggy back carried her to my house and scoured through Keziah’s old shoes to find just the right pair. A pink pair of slip ons with Hello Kitty embroidered on the outside. Keziah also was feeling generous and so gave away Ember’s Polly pockets to Nadege’s little girl. (I’m sure Ember won’t notice)
She skipped away joyfully. Much more excited about the Polly Pockets then the shoes I think.
It felt good to have my heart be awakened. It felt good to do something about it. I just still wish there were trees that grew sandals, and shoes and vitamins, and worm medicine…. I wish.

  1. It is so ridiculous that their is such an abundance of shoes here in the USA….I can go into a thrift store and buy a second hand pair of shoes in really good condition for a dollar or two…and where you are children the have none. Their must be someway to get shoes to them….

  2. You've shared it all appreciate able. I love this post. Really amazing post. Keep it on…

  3. In January, when two of my kids went to work at the Lutheran Village in Jacmel, they brought a duffel bag full of soccer shoes to hand out to the school kids. Maybe we could send duffel bags of shoes along with people headed there, at least for starters? You are right, there ought to be some way to get shoes to you. . .

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