Meet Timur. Just shy of graduating kindergarten, Timur already aspires to become the president of his country, Uzbekistan. After walking a grueling 6 miles to the “Health Train,” the serious and ambitious 7-year-old is now equipped with a brand-new pair of TOMS Shoes that he will proudly wear when he returns to school.
“These shoes do so much more than just keep children healthy.”
Since 2010, AmeriCares has worked with TOMS to deliver new shoes to impoverished children like Timur in several countries around the world. An initial shipment of shoes was delivered to Uzbekistan in May, 2012 and are being distributed by AmeriCares partners to children in orphanages and boarding schools. For these children, shoes are often hard to come by. Without proper footwear, children are susceptible to painful cuts and sores on their feet which can become infected in rough, unsanitary terrain. Barefoot children are also vulnerable to diseases, such as intestinal worms, that penetrate through the feet.
In Uzbekistan, where close to 30% of the population lives below the poverty line, these shoes do so much more than just keep children healthy. “The shoes make a huge impact on each child’s life, helping to raise self esteem and dignity,” explained Dmitriy Popov, an AmeriCares staff member who traveled to Uzbekistan to assist with the recent distribution.
Thanks to TOMS and the allocation capacity of our in-country partner, many Uzbek children in dire need of quality shoes received a brand-new pair. And it doesn’t stop with one pair: TOMS promises to replenish with new shoes every 6 months to accommodate the children’s growing feet.
TOMS, which has been called “a company with a conscience,” promotes a mission similar to AmeriCares by providing for those most in need around the world. As part of their One for One ™ model, for every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS will give a new pair of shoes to a child in need. In order to do this, TOMS collaborates with many “giving partners” — humanitarian and health NGOs, including AmeriCares, who work to distribute the shoes.
Our Asia/Eurasia team is hoping to further expand the effort, so that many more children can lead healthier lives — one step at a time.