Walk a Mile FOR Their Shoes

by Telling Dad on July 1, 2013

It’s time to pay the piper. Me, of course, being that piper.

But I don’t want it for me. I want it for the Flip Flop campaign my wife and I have organized for the Children’s Village we support in Malawi.

Over the past several months, I have done dozens of blog tweaks, security updates, malware fixes, graphics, and more at no charge…with the understanding that they’ll come through for my Flip Flop campaign once it’s launched. Well, it’s launched, and I need everyone who pledged their support to do so!

Through this blog, I’ve been blessed to have readers who are both kind and generous. Together, we’ve raised several thousand dollars to support my Sweet Dreams Fund to combat the fears brought on by domestic violence. The joy you helped bring by way of coloring books, pillows, and teddy bears is immeasurable.

Today, we’re hoping to elicit your help either by way of contributions to the Flip Flop campaign and/or by your willingness to help spread the word and share this page with others.

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http://gofundme.com/flipflops

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Originally, I was going to create a kind of virtual fundraiser whereby I would ask parents and kids to secure donations from their families and friends to support them “walking a mile FOR their shoes.” Meaning, the kiddos would walk one mile while barefoot to raise money for the children within the village who have no footwear whatsoever.

But the more I shared this idea, the more I was told that it might be dangerous for kids to participate barefoot. They might step on sharp stones, step on glass, stub their toes, or get unnecessarily dirty and grimy by walking such a long distance without shoes.

That, in and of itself, is precisely the reason why Heather and I want to do this, and why we hope you’ll get involved as well.

Where people have said they don’t want their kids to walk a mile while barefoot, the children in the village we help support have to do this daily. They walk everywhere without protective footwear. And not on sidewalks or paved streets, but rather on hard, cracked ground, through brush, and among dangers such as insects, sharp objects, and even snakes.

They walk, run, jump, and play…barefoot. Everyday. And this leaves them vulnerable to germs, cuts, bruises, and even disease. If you’ve ever walked barefoot over stones, pebbles, or even the forest floor, you can more easily imagine what they go through in their harsh environment.

We aim to change that with your generosity. And for those who pony up the big bucks, we have a special reward for you.

What follows is the listing we posted on GoFundMe.com, which offers a way to facilitate fundraising for grassroots campaigns such as this. If you feel compelled to help, anything would be welcomed and so very appreciated.

While GoFundMe.com doesn’t accept PayPal, you can still contribute via PayPal by sending your donation to flipflops@tellingdad.com or by clicking the Donate button below.

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For years, my local Rotary chapter has supported an irrigation and education project in Malawi to help improve the lives of those who live there. We bring supplies for wells, education, clothing, and medical attention; we facilitate irrigation and teach proper land management; and we help establish better education opportunities for the children…many of whom were orphaned.

We had arranged for t-shirts from our son's elementary school to be sent for each child. The smiles were non-stop.

We had arranged for t-shirts from our son's elementary school to be sent for each child. The smiles were non-stop.

One of the things I noticed when viewing the slides from last year’s visit is that none of the children had footwear. Considering how far some of these children have to walk to draw water, get to school, and retrieve food or medical supplies, this leaves them highly vulnerable to disease, insects, sharp objects, and other hazards.

My wife and I decided to try and raise enough funds to purchase sturdy flip-flops for each of the kids in the Children’s Village that we support. Through our local chapter alone, we’ve erected classrooms and playgrounds, we’ve organized curriculum, we’ve arranged for teachers, and we’ve even stocked the classes with supplies, books, and utensils.

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But still, these children have to walk, play, and run in bare feet.

We are seeking the generosity of strangers as we want to provide every single child in the Children’s Village with their own pair of sandals. This equates to 154 pairs of shoes ranging in size from toddler to teen. As well, there are several teachers and nurses who are in tattered footwear that we aim to replace.

We asked one of the instructors to measure the feet of each and every child, and we now have the full list needed to make sure no one goes without.

Because these flipflops will be their daily footwear, we realized that we needed something stronger than Dollar Store alternatives or temporary beach-quality foam sandals. Miles upon miles will be traveled in these sandals so we wanted to source flipflops that would last.

Fortunately, Crocs has agreed to help us by providing us with a generous bulk discount on the purchase of their footwear along with providing free shipping to our location here in the United States. The photo below is only one of the styles we’re purchasing because not every style is available in every size. Some are under $15 and some are over $20.

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Once here, the Crocs will be jammed into luggage and we’ve already made arrangements with South African Airways to allow us to add these additional suitcases for a nominal charge.

We can acquire each pair of Crocs for an average price of $15.50 a pair, for a total of $2,387. Fortunately, we are able to use our Tax Exempt designation, thereby saving more than $200.

On top of this, we have administrative costs including GoFundMe and $200+ to cover the airline’s additional charge. My wife and I are covering any overage.

As such, we are putting out a plea in the hopes of raising $2,500 so that this year’s trip to Malawi can include the delivery of brand new footwear to every child in the village.

By contributing, every penny will go towards the smiles on these kids’ faces when they lace up and strap up. They’ll travel with better safety, they’ll be able to run and play with far less worry, and they’ll be able to take their daily walks in better comfort.

For anyone who donates $50 or more, my wife and I will be sending that person a FlipFlop Pendant Necklace as a sign of thanks (your choice of color).

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We thank you for even considering this project and we’ll be posting updates and photos starting the very day the flipflops arrive…both here for preparation and once they arrive in Malawi in early August.

Anything raised beyond our expenses will be donated to their medical center due to a critically low inventory of supplies. Even simple sutures and bandages are nearly impossible to find without traveling several hours.

We thank you for helping us make this inspiration a reality, and I’m sure you’ll feel just as blessed when you see the resulting photos and smiles.

Thank you again and we can’t wait to make this happen with your help…and neither can they!

Our local Rotary member in the Malawi Children's Village from last year. We can't wait to send him back there with this blessing!

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Walk a Mile...Barefoot | Diaries of a Domestic Goddess
July 3, 2013 at 9:30 pm

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan July 1, 2013 at 7:24 pm

So what if we seemingly responsible adult shaped people would like to walk a mile in their shoes? Or lack there of?

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Telling Dad July 1, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Adult-shaped peeps are great. Mainly because they hold all the cash anyhow. ;)

I had planned a big campaign for the barefoot walk but felt it best to just make the plea after a few brought up the concern about the dangers of walking barefoot. But then, those concerns just made the fundraiser seem all the more necessary!

Joanna July 1, 2013 at 8:18 pm

I’m in! And while I don’t have a very big blog following, would it be okay to share this there as well as on my FB page? Great project! Our school did this a couple of years ago for kids in Guatemala (the shoes/flip flops part, not all the rest).

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Telling Dad July 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Thank you! Everyone can feel free to use any of the text and photos above to help us promote the campaign. We need all the help and exposure we can get!

Kate @ The Shopping Mama July 2, 2013 at 7:06 am

What a great idea! Good luck meeting your goal – hope my little contribution helps get you there.

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valmg @ Mom Knows It All July 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Off to make a donation and share.

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Lorie Shewbridge July 2, 2013 at 7:28 pm

This is a beautiful project, thank you for all you and your wife are doing to help these gorgeous children.
While our funds are extremely limited right now, I will share this on my FB page and my Twitter feed.
If my budget next month lets me, I will be back to donate. Good luck with your goal.

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Amy July 8, 2013 at 9:15 am

I’m curious about the current lack of footwear. That is: is the only reason they don’t wear shoes because they don’t have access to them? (Meaning a poverty/resource issue vs. a cultural one.) Do they normally like to wear western style footwear when it is available? I absolutely love the idea and I am super impressed at your resourcefulness in coming up with such a great solution, I was just wondering if you could give us a little back story.

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Telling Dad July 8, 2013 at 9:49 am

Amy, great question and it most definitely is not a cultural decision. Both access and poverty are the two primary reasons. In their rough terrain, shoes are imperative. But supplies, in almost any regard, are very difficult to come by. As an example, if basic medical supplies are needed, it’s often a multi-hour trip followed by a multi-DAY wait in line. At women’s clinics, some women wait in line for more than 24 hours to be seen.

When someone from our local chapter traveled to Malawi (as he does every year) he was bitten by a foot-long centipede. The pain and infection were excruciating. These children walk through rivers, brush, and caked earth barefoot. Believe me, if given the choice, they would take shoes over going barefoot.

Most of these kids are orphans and with limited funds to go around, it’s not a luxury they enjoy. Just sad that shoes are considered a luxury at all!

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Susan July 10, 2013 at 7:57 pm

What a great idea, and we’ll be donating! My own question, like Amy’s—are flip flops the best shoes, or should they have sneakers? You have a great group of followers and contributors, I bet if they needed sneakers we could come up with them!

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Telling Dad July 10, 2013 at 9:40 pm

First of all, thank you SO MUCH for the $50 donation. That was amazing to see. :)

Second, we thought about sneakers but the issue comes down to the number of pairs of socks that would be required to avoid issues long-term. Sandals, especially in that environment, are far more practical because they won’t need socks (another expense + the issues with laundry and such) and they can get wet. As well, they’ll avoid blisters and other issues that can arise when wearing enclosed shoes without socks.

Right now, we’re hoping to hit our goal because we’re still behind! I’m going to try and rally the troops again but I think I discovered the limit of my reach. :)

Tracy Baldwin July 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Love this! I was concerned about the flimsy flip flop idea, but once I saw the sturdy-looking pair with backstrap that will be sent, they look like a good solution.
I can only afford a small donation at the moment, and normally limit my contributions to a few select places (it would be too easy to go broke donating to every worthwhile cause), but I appreciate your blog and this effort and will happily put some distance between those kid’s feet and foot-long centipedes. Because that just sounds scary as hell.

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Troy Pattee July 26, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Hey Greg,

I had no idea you had a connection to Malawi. Having visited the country last year I can attest to the need for footwear. While giving pneumonia vaccinations in remote villages we had many moms and kids walking 20 miles or more to reach us. Yet even with that and countless other hardships, I never met a Malawian who didn’t seem happy and content–a huge lesson I learned from them.
Jyl and I will gladly donate a $100 to this worthwhile cause. Thanks for putting this together!

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Jennifer @ Mom Spotted July 27, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I think that this is awesome of you guys to do. What a great cause! Just sent a donation your way :)

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Shop with Me Mama July 29, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Awesome! I just shared on Twitter and Google+ :)

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