Dallas-based Refugees Start School with New Shoes from Buckner

By Analiz González
Buckner International

(DALLAS, Texas) — Thirty-six refugee children from around the world received Shoes for Orphan Souls in Dallas on Aug. 28.

Buckner staff distributed the shoes at the Margaret and Gilbert Herrera Intake Center, located at James B. Bonham Elementary School, to children enrolling in the Dallas Independent School District.

And more shoes are on the way, as children speaking Somali, Arabic, Chin Lai and many other languages, continue pouring into DISD needing guidance.

The shoes were collected by DISD staff as part of a staff-development event on May 9. Half of the 170-pair collection will go back to DISD students.

“It makes me burst to see the kids dance when they put on new shoes, especially the shoes that light up,” said Sheri Jones-Cleaver, intake specialist at the Multi-Language Enrichment Program in the DISD. “A lot of the refugees come here with nothing and the services we provide here, as well as the Shoes for Orphan Souls they are getting, are part of the many things that will start them down the road to success.”

Rachel Garton, director of Shoes for Orphan Souls, said placing shoes on the feet of these children is a beautiful reminder of why she does why she does.

“It makes everything I do at Buckner worth it, to see them smile,” Garton said. “A lot of them are going through a hard time. They have to attend a school where they don’t understand the culture or the language. The shoes can be an encouragement. At least we know that none of them will have to be ashamed of what they wear on their feet.”

Ta Rut, a refugee from Burma, moved to the United States eight months ago with three of his four children, ages 13, 11 and 8. His wife stayed in Burmah with their 8-month-old baby.

Rut said in broken English that his children don’t know the language and will be focusing on learning it in school. He and his family were displaced by fighting in his country and came to the United States for refuge. He is looking for a job.

“I lived in a refugee camp,” he said. “Then they bring me to America.”

Another man, Joseph Deng, brought his 5-year-old daughter for guidance from the Multi-Language Enrichment Program and new shoes. He called himself one of the Lost Boys from Sudan.

“I came to the United States in 2006,” he said, and added that his 5-year-old daughter also immigrated that year, but will need to learn English since they never spoke it at home.

Judith Homs-Tomes, supervisor of the DISD Multi-Language Enrichment Program, said that close to 3,000 children who are new to the country enroll with their help each year.

“It is important to not just take care of their educational needs, but also their social and emotional needs,” Homs-Tomes said. “When you come here, you’ll see this all the time. It’s like a little United Nations. We may not always speak the language of the people, but we speak the language of love and generosity.”

Shoes for Orphan Souls is a ministry of Buckner International. Since 1999, more than 1.6 million pairs of shoes have been distributed to orphans and at-risk children and families in more than 60 countries around the world.

For more information on Shoes for Orphan Souls, call 1-866-774-SHOE or visit www.shoesfororphansouls.org.

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