Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Notes from Haiti - Shoes are a Piece of the Puzzle

The following is a post from our Giving Account Manager, Jenise Steverding,  regarding her recent trip to Haiti. She shares a bit about her own past work in Haiti and the encouragement she experienced in seeing the progress just over 1 year later.

We all have some life moments that leave a lasting impression. For me, memories in Carrefour, Haiti will last a lifetime. My first memories there are of the devastation brought by the 2010 earthquake.Now, through my work with TOMS, my most recent memories are of children wearing our shoes to protect their feet in a dangerous environment.
Prior to joining the TOMS Giving Department, I was working in the field of relief and development.   In January 2010, I was deployed to Haiti to oversee the distribution of medical supplies and medicines in response to the earthquake.   I travelled to visit an organization called Grace International, who were supporting over 20,000 people living under sheets in a make-shift city.
My first experience in Carrefour is difficult to recount.  The Haiti earthquake was one of the most devastating naturaldisasters of my lifetime.  But in spite of the pain and destruction around, there were also signs of resilience and hope of a people determined to find ways to move forward. Over the thirteen months that have passed since that trip, I have often thought of the people still living at the Grace tent city. This month, I was able to return to Carrefour, where TOMS has had the privilege to give new shoes to children who have lost everything.  On the way there, my heart was filled with anticipation, wondering if things would have improved.
As my car pulled up, I let out a shout of excitement to see children running around with their new TOMS protecting their feet. I toured the community and was pleased to see latrines built (and spotless), school resumed, tents numbered by “city blocks”, a washing station, a working clinic, and a new water well station that was serving the community with clean water.  While people are still living in tents, everywhere I looked I saw thirteen months of progress in this Haitian community.
Shoes are just one component of the recovery efforts in Haiti, but for these children, they make an important contribution to health and their ability to attend school. Haiti has a long way to go in its recovery, but we’re proud to be part of the effort.

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