DALLAS – Volunteers at the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid can now walk a mile in the shoes – or bare feet – of the children who are served by Shoes for Orphan Souls®.
Buckner staff unveiled the “Barefoot Experience” in February. It features terrain from Peru, Ethiopia and Mexico, with the types of soil, rocks and debris commonly found in each country.
“We have roughly 5,000 volunteers who come through our center each year, and for many of them, it’s their first introduction to Buckner,” said Alex Dean, humanitarian aid coordinator. “So instead of just coming into a warehouse and doing some work, we wanted to begin to provide a physical and tangible resource where they could really see the needs of the different countries we work in. The Barefoot Experience allows our volunteers to grasp the scope of what we do and why we do it.”
Kids from one spring break volunteer group took off their shoes at the end of their morning work session and stepped gingerly onto the soil of Peru. They walked lightly across to Ethiopia and then Mexico. Their chaperones asked them if it feels good to walk barefoot. The kids agreed: it doesn’t feel good, and children in those countries definitely need shoes.
Many volunteers have been hesitant to take on the challenge, but the ones who do say that it gives them a fresh perspective on the importance of shoes.
“It was painful and sad,” said 10-year-old Raelynne. “The kids need us to help give shoes so their feet won’t hurt.”
Want to try the Barefoot Experience? Volunteer at the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid to sort and pack shoes and write notes to the children around the world who will receive them. Visit shoesfororphansouls.org/volunteer-process.shtml for more information.
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