For many of us, a pair of shoes may be nothing more than a good-looking shoe, but shoes are precious for many of the children we serve in Peru. Never has that been more true than for the children we recently met.
Mery and I took footwear donated through Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls® deep into the jungle to a village called Autiki, which is an Ashaninka Native Community.
It is a beautiful place, but extremely impoverished and overlooked by the government and aid organizations.
When we arrived, people were overwhelmed that we followed through with our promise to bring shoes. In response, they brought us fruit they had cultivated. Everyone gathered and school teachers explained why we were there. Dressed in traditional clothing, no one had shoes.
The adults and children loved receiving the shoes. Their joy and happiness was immense.
As we played with the children and learned about the families, we came to understand why.
A group of about 10 children were taking turns sliding down a small hill on two bikes without tires. We asked the leader of the community about those bikes and what kind of toys the children have to play with. He told us these kids only receive gifts in the summer when kids from other communities throw away their old toys to the river. The children grab the items as the float down the river. For them, it’s like Christmas.
Our visit was something very special for the community especially for the young people because they have never received any kind of help, support or aid and we were the first ones to give them a special gift.
For the young people in this village, Buckner shoes meant far more than a fashion statement. They were hope.
Written by Alonso Alegre, director of humanitarian aid for Buckner Peru
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