How many pairs of shoes do you own? Two, five, ten, twenty? I read recently that the average American owns 17-19 pairs of shoes. But this is drastically different for the children and families in Ethiopia and in the BCI program. The vast majority of the children in our program have only one pair of shoes. If they have two, then they are considered very blessed.
Two team members from Oregon, Steve and Sara, recognized this need and wanted to make a difference in the lives of the BCI families by blessing every child and every guardian with a new pair of shoes. That totaled to 256 pairs of shoes!!
Steve and Sara came up with this idea after hearing about an experience that their friend had on her last trip to Ethiopia. While in Debre Zeyit, their friend bought shoes for quite a few needy children and she saw the impact that the new shoes had on them.
Steve and Sara talked and decided that they felt led to purchase shoes for every child in the Blessing the Children program. After thinking about it more, Sara kept thinking about the moms and guardians of the children. She felt that they deserved to be blessed as well. They both agreed that they would not only buy shoes for all of the children but for all of the guardians, as well.
Blessing the Children staff in Ethiopia then had a huge job ahead of them. They had to gather all of the shoe sizes for every child and every guardian. They then had to order and purchase all 256 pairs of shoes in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, and transport them back to the office. It was a big job, but one filled with excitement and anticipation.
“Near the end of our two week trip during the latter half of June, we went to the BCI office the morning of distribution day and saw shoes piled up and boxes stacked up, and were excited to be part of giving those shoes out to the children and their guardians. It was an amazing time for Sara and I, as we were blessed and privileged to be able to help these deserving children and families” recalled Steve about the big day.
The guardians that came to pick up the shoes were very excited. In the Ethiopian culture, adults are very reserved in their emotional reactions. The unexpected blessing didn’t elicit squeals of joy or jumping up and down with excitement but if you looked closely, you could see how much this meant to the families. The more subtle appreciation could be seen by the tears, the smiles, and by watching the moms try on their new shoes. The children, on the other hand, showed their excitement in typical kid fashion – dancing around with joy!