Yesterday the 5th of April was A Day Without Shoes. It was an awareness/fundraiser for poor kids in developing nations who have to go about barefoot because they cannot afford a pair of shoes. They have to farm, walk long distances & basically live their lives without shoes. Day in, day out. This program was initiated by a couple of big shot companies.
I first heard about the program on campus. To be sincere, my initial reaction was “hun? barefoot? its freaking April! its still going to be cold as crap!”
But for some minutes forget about that and lets discuss this move a little bit more.
Today I was looking for someone on facebook, then I saw someone on my news feed talk about how cold her feet were because she was taking part in the A Day Without Shoes program. Now pause… Seeing this, I said hun?… Then the questions began moments later.
* How has her action helped some poor kid in a village in Niger or Kenya or Kibera get a pair of shoes? Did she donate some amount of money somewhere? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know but we hope she did.
*Did her actions and those of others around the world move them so much that they have decided to do something about poor kids without shoes? Not necessarily kids in developing nations but in their communities?
So what happens when the shoes donated to these kids wear out? Hun? Did anyone think about that? Do they wait till next year? (that is if it becomes an annual event) to get a new pair? What if the shoes get stolen or damaged beyond repair? They go back to square one?
The website set up for this event had an image that makes it seem the whole thing was a very simple task.
1. Go barefoot —> 2. Conversations start —-> 3. You are moved to donate —–> 4. Then the kid gets a pair of shoes! yay!
Really?!? Does anyone else see the problem with this equation?
You know, this whole act reminds me of the facebook ‘campaigns’ we all laugh about. The color of bra status, the I like it on my… status, the cartoon profile picture to help fight child trafficking? (I don’t remember the exact cause)
long and short of the situation is, the players in this program have gotten things all mixed up.
Why does the West think or feel giving away large sums of money to developing or poor nations is the way out. Time and time again we have seen this doesn’t work. All it does is either keep those countries where they are or push the further into their holes.
Rather what I think/suggest should be done is:
1. the monies spent to start such campaigns should be taken to these countries and one by one, build facilities, structures, whatever is needed so that the locals have somewhere/resources to make things for themselves. Start something no matter how small. Slippers, shoes are (hopefully) not that expensive to make. (I am speaking of something simple.) Let them make for themselves something they can have on their feet. Then we can begin to refine the products.
2. The money spent on adverts, iPhone and other smartphone apps, blabla should be used to teach the locals how to create better products for themselves (heck! they probably know how to, they just don’t have the resources)
3. Set up vocational learning centers then the monies raised in the developed nations can be used to fund the centers. Provide raw materials, equipments etc for the locals and as they grow, slowly start to wean them off the aid.
Don’t get me wrong, there is totally nothing wrong with starting campaigns or events to help the less privileged in our society, but when we do, it should make sense. Our actions should be able to directly affect the lives of those we are trying to help. Not just walking around in your posh office which is most likely carpeted and not giving out a dime or becoming affiliated in some way (donor, volunteer, etc) to NGOs or other organizations that actually help the plight of folks who need out help.
and I saw this tweet on their website:
Really?!? the next best thing to barefoot? Does anyone else now see the big assumptions made on the part of these companies in charge of this program?
On a final note, I will like hear about how much money they raised, how many shoes they donated, if they truly met their goals and if this will be end of this program or more will be done after this.