Today I read a blog post by Abby Ellis about a medical team in Uganda that also brought used children's shoes to a village. Once, when I heard about children in tropical climates who lack shoes, I was a bit puzzled. Shoes are generally designed to protect feet and to keep them warm. As a child of the US sunbelt, I shed my shoes whenever possible. Running barefoot on grass and asphalt alike. Then I read an article about parasites. Parasites that enter one's body through the feet. These parasites can cause serious illness, including organ damage and death. And I understood the importance of shoes, especially to those in countries where sanitation is nonexistent.
As Abby points out, sending boxes of shoes overseas is not the answer to solving this medical crisis. Doing so can put local cobblers out of business. Also, due to my work in Haiti, I know how extremely expensive and impractical it is to ship used shoes and other items overseas. However, looking at Abby's photos and narrative, it has me thinking about the dollars that are on my closet shelves and in my dresser drawers that could be better spent financing the purchase of shoes and clothing for those who truly have a need. I wish I could remember this each time I approach a cash register with an article of clothing that I do not need.