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Help Provide Their Perfect Pair

If you’ve had a child in your life, you’ve likely heard the all too familiar, “I don’t want to go to school today”. (Kudos if you haven’t!) After all, leaving the comfort of a warm bed to practice multiplication tables isn’t always that appealing.

But when finishing grade school isn’t a responsibility, but a privilege, these morning conversations take on a different flavor. Take the kids we met this past March at the Pierre Payen School in Haiti. Their parents go to extraordinary lengths to provide them with an education. They may represent the poorest population in the Americas, but if they want their kids to go to school, they have to dig deeper into their empty pockets to cover tuition, uniforms and shoes. And it’s no walk in the park for the kids either.

The setup at school, for one, is a bit challenging to say the least. There are no classrooms separating age groups and grades, or colorful maps and posters on the walls, or books and toys. Just one long, dusty concrete rectangle. The only hints of color amidst a sea of gray are seven green chalkboards breaking up the various levels of study. Cut-outs on the walls provide some ventilation, but not nearly enough to overcome the heavy heat and humidity. And narrow wooden planks nailed together in tight rows provide the students seating and writing space.

Then there’s the fact that the school building doubles as a church. This makes things all the more interesting, especially for the older kids who avoid sudden movements while sitting alongside a six-foot hole in the floor that the congregation hopes someday will become a baptismal font.

It’s here that 156 children grades one to eight take to the business of learning. Not in annoyance or lament, but with great pride. And with hope for a better future free from the grip of extreme poverty. And in gratitude to the dedicated teachers who simultaneously impart nuggets of wisdom upon them.

Our team was just as grateful to be welcomed into this unlikely oasis of opportunity for a distribution. Shoe boxes—check. Sizing charts—check. Bins of water for the ritual washing of the feet—not feasible. Love—loads of it. And in a corner nook of privacy, our volunteers found the perfect pair of new CCILU shoes for each child. Perfect not only for all the practical reasons: sturdy to protect their feet from the dangers of rocks, trash and heat; washable for flexibility; and sock-lined to help offset yet another expense. But perfect also because they’re multicolored and fun and kid-approved—and almost as bright as the children’s smiles as they playfully compared their new kicks.

Oh, and they also come in really cool boxes that they loved almost as much as the shoes themselves. That child in your life has probably done that too. A good reminder that kids will be kids—no matter where!