Travel: Haiti

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January 2 – January 6

I would bet that everybody has donated something to charity – money, clothes, food, etc.
I’ve always asked myself ‘where does this donation go?’ – I’ve always blindly sent off items with the trust that it will be received and put to good use. I had to find out where this goes, and who was on the other end to receive it.
It started in November last year. I just ordered two pairs of work boots with the allowance provided by my employer. The problem; I do this every year. Year after year I buy new boots, but I never discard the old. needless to say I’ve realized I’ve never re-worn my old pair, and in November I finally realized this waste. So, how do I get rid of these shoes? It seems like such a waste to just toss them in the trash, they still have soles for goodness sake. So like anything other question I have I turned to the internet – Search: shoe donations _ Result: soles for souls
I’ve never heard of Soles for Souls, but it’s catchy enough to feel like I’m familiar. Turns out S4S provides a few ways to donate your shoes; local drop offs that can handle small donations, warehouses that can handle large donations, or pick-up delivery for large donations (shoe drives for example). Better yet – S4S has the option to travel to the distributions in foreign countries. Yes before I donate my pairs of boots I must trust that these rubber soles find a good home, I must shake the hand of the next owner.

Soles for Souls
What I did find out is that when you make a donation to S4S they take your donations to a warehouse to be sorted. The new shoes get separated from the old shoes. The new shoes are distributed for free to a new owner. The old are sold, this is where they make some money to sustain the operation. The buyers then sell again to sustain their business. The goal isn’t just to get shoes to the shoeless, but to get businesses product and business plans in order to sell. The greatest need for new shoes is still the young children who need shoes for school. S4S buys new shoes to distribute to young children (multiple times a year) in order for them to maintain dress code for their school. This is fantastic. So your donated shoes might not end up on the feet of someone in Africa, or Haiti, but the money raised will go towards producing a new shoe for a greater need – education. http://www.solesforsouls.org

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Haiti
3 years ago Port-au-Prince, Haiti was devastated by an earth quake that killed over 300,000 people. The poorest country in the western hemisphere – what life must be like, I can’t imagine.
It took me a while to process what I saw in Haiti and I still don’t have a clear way to translate it. You might have already seen pictures of the people and the homes, but this is only a moment in time, the story told by the photographer. Most of the time the photos are biased towards destruction and despair. As an outsider I found area of Port-au-Prince to be mind-numbing. The only thoughts that made it through was how beautiful I found the country side to be. Oh how wonderful a place to see the sun rise over the mountains and set into the ocean. There is beauty in nature, outside of any society you can trust in that. You can feel sorry for the people who live in the city, but I would feel envy for those who live mountain side.

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Haiti

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