So - this is how it came about. One day last September I was chatting with my friend Jennifer on Facebook (awesome, inexpensive way to 'talk' long distance!) mentioning all these children in Mbayi without shoes. She made it her mission to change this situation, enlisted the help of her church family, collected and shipped shoes (and socks!). Six months later, as the children in Mbayi returned to commence a new term at their new school, (The government just built a school here. When I arrived classes were being held outside in the shade of trees beside the dilapidated community school house) sitting in quiet anticipation at new desks, I described this journey of shoes from the feet of children in Canada across the ocean and into their classroom. Imagine that! What an exciting afternoon it was as I had the privilege (thanks St. Stephen's!) of fitting 60 pairs of shoes onto many feet that had never experienced anything other than flip-flops. No one went home barefoot, there were socks for those not receiving shoes and I brought lollipops for everyone- a memorable day for these needy youngsters.
Now, as footprints once upon the streets of Lorne Park are scattered throughout the bush in Mbayi, as feet clad in nikes, reeboks etc. are being kept warm, dry and protected, I marvel at how unusual it is to see kids in shoes!