March 23, 2016
According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, 3 out of 4 people in rural areas in Bolivia live below the national poverty line. A large part of Soles4Souls’ mission is partnering with non-profits around the globe that have access and relationships with these rural communities, to provide shoes and clothing to those in need.
One such partner is the Believe and Dream Foundation that, according to Carlos Mollinedo of the foundation, works to build community through training in various topics such as human rights, the value of education, leadership and building their own businesses to generate income.
But the foundation also realizes the needs that hold many back—at the top of the list is the lack of access to adequate shoes. “The lack of material items such as shoes or school supplies are one of the principal reasons why children leave school,” says Mollinedo. “In rural areas the schools are far from their homes and many children must walk between 10 km to 50 km to reach. If you do not have a basic tool like shoes they leave the education and prefer to work.” Soles4Souls recently provided over 26,000 pairs of BOBS from Skechers to distribute to children between the ages of 3 to 18.
“To them it is very important to know that they are visible to society and they express their needs. They say because they live far away (in rural areas) they are forgotten areas.”
Getting shoes into the country was not easy. Soles4Souls struggled with customs for over a year before the shipment was received.
“Bolivia is a country that must pay taxes on any donations (material or financial),” says Molliendo. “To receive a donation as a Non Governmental Organization is a very complicated task that requires a lot of professionalism. But most important, they think in the children do not deserve it and they lose that benefit.”
“This is one of my favorite projects each year with the Believe and Dream Foundation,” says Soles4Souls COO David Graben. “Two years ago we distributed over 30,000 Legos together and this year over 26,000 pairs of BOBS from Skechers shoes. Thanks to our mutual partner Greater Good that continues to fund the partnership, we are looking ahead to the next big project next year. Seeing the smiling faces in these wonderful photos makes it all worth it!”