Today is National Shoe the World Day. It’s a day set aside to observe the impact of shoes for those who don’t have access to adequate footwear. Shawn Spurrier, director of Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls® reflects on the meaning of this day and how shoes impacts the children and families served by Buckner International.
This particular year, National Shoe the World Day hits me a little different. We have spent more than two years watching difficult news cross our screens daily. Even in the last couple of weeks, images of Ukrainian children and families fleeing their homes on foot in search of safety have filled our social media feeds. This news – and these images – remind me of three core facts about the gift of shoes.
- A gateway to transformation
Buckner International serves children and families in some of the most vulnerable communities throughout the world. And if a family was vulnerable to poverty or separation going into the pandemic, it is very likely that vulnerability was compounded during the pandemic.
Thankfully, Buckner field staff throughout Texas, Latin America and Africa have done a heroic and inspirational job every day during the pandemic to serve children and families – positioning them for spiritual, familial and economic strength. They have been able to ease the burden of meeting basic needs by providing shoes.
Shoes are essential. The Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls project was founded in 1999 to provide essential care for children throughout the world. It is as true now, as it was in 1999: Shoes are a primary way to promote health in communities where jiggers and other foot borne illnesses are prevalent. Additionally, shoes are lowering barriers to an education, empowering children to meet all the potential God has for them.
Finally, shoes are a primary touchpoint to introduce children and families to Buckner ministries – where transformational, Christ-centered programming is encouraging and strengthening them to rise above poverty.
Just a few days ago, I received an email from a team member in Guatemala. This email had photos from recent shoe distributions in some of the communities where we serve. This time, crossing my screen, I saw images of kids joyfully receiving shoes, playing with one another and praying. They were experiencing a real moment of hope.
For a moment, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that, despite all the obstacles our teams have confronted, we are still able to provide this gift for children throughout the world. It may seem simple, but lives are being changed, and children know they are loved by God and are not forgotten.
The gift of shoes may meet a child or family experiencing real crisis. They may be the item needed to keep a child safe and healthy. They may allow them to receive the education that could be the next step out of poverty. Or they may be a gateway to transformation experienced in ministries designed just for them.
It could be, that one child is just one pair of shoes away from health, education, opportunity and hope for their future.