• sarah@healingeyes.org

Stop giving shoes

Stop giving shoes

The hardest part of missionary work and working in a foreign country is finding people to trust even when you know it might be impossible because we will always be foreigners in their country. We sat in a restaurant while waiting for the plane to take us back to ‘home’ aka Michigan and their were these other mazungoos sitting at a big table dining with locals. We over heard their conversation and they had been working in a remote village and were helping build a school. Ha what a cliche really because that seems like what all foreigners are there to do, build a school. Does building a school really help these people? Is it really making a difference? The one woman was talking about how the poor children had no shoes and that they could send over boxes of shoes to the children. The local people nodded and said oh yes that would be great, those poor children need shoes. Ok so if you ever stayed long in Africa you’ll come across this often, giving away free clothing and shoes because it’s an easy thing to do. Send boxes of stuff that will bring a temporary smile to a child but after you leave those shoes fall apart, get stolen, or worse jealous kids might beat up another for them. In boarding schools some kids might destroy what the other child has out of pure jealousy and then that child is left with nothing again. Now the next time a mazungoo comes through they will now beg for a handout because that’s the message we just sent them…the cycle continues.

Giving free shoes also takes away from local people making a living off selling new shoes, shoes that might be better quality if there market wasn’t flooded with used shoes. If you walk through the markets of mbale you will see piles and piles of used shoes being sold on the market and those same shoes will fall apart a month later after the black shoe polish wears off them revealing how poorly made those shoes were. The stores that have nicer shoes are passed by because of all the piles of used shoes offered up as a cheaper solution. If you look closely into those piles of shoes you’ll see brands you’ll know, like Clarks and Adidas, second hand shoes that keep cycling through the market. Shipping boxes of shoes is when helping hurts, but they will take them because who wouldn’t turn down a freebie?

Africa… a continent full of poverty but also strong people that need more than handouts. It needs more than handouts and our second hand throw aways. Education for the children and perhaps more importantly education for the young adults that now outnumber the old. The young adults need something to do instead of hanging out at the trading center drinking booze and playing games, they need encouragement and opportunity to learn, to learn the value of a hard earned shilling the honest way. Half of these kids are just bored and need a push in the right direction. Trade schools can begin to open doors, primary schools can help young children to gain a firm foundation and succeed in their adult lives. Unlocking potential the long and difficult way instead of quick easy fixes of free sandals for kids.

Let’s hope and pray in time the handful of kids we support today will go on to do important things in their communities instead of waiting around for someone else to do it for them. Let’s pray in time we can reach the young adults who get caught up in doing wrong merely because they are bored and have nothing else to do. Let’s pray the children can see honesty as a better option than lying and cheating their neighbors to get ahead.

Healing Eyes
Healing Eyes

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