It was a normal hot sweaty day in Haiti. Our Soles4Souls team arrived in St Marc with a load full of shoes for an anxious packed room of school children. The buzz was building as people were starting to gather around.
In America, it's not extremely common to be greeted or shown appreciation by song. However, it is one one of my favorite things when traveling to new countries. I've been entertained by song and dance in many countries and can truly attest to the fact that music is a universal language. I may not know the words, but the rhythm, expression and excitement in the air speaks loud and clear. And this trip was no different.
We were greeted by a jolly lady with an infectious smile who was very excited to see us. Part of the team started to unload the large bags full of new shoes while a few of us waited in the other concrete room next door filled with countless children. Now . . . as a mom, I can tell you firsthand that the patience I see in kids in third-world countries far surpasses my own!!!! They patiently waited for a very long time in a hot box for that one pair of shoes. My kids struggle to sit at a restaurant for long before getting restless and adults alike, quickly become impatient if they have to wait more than a couple minutes in a drive-through line for their over-sized meal.
In fact, some of the children (like the girls in the picture above) wore their very best for this special event. Theses beautiful young ladies walked in the dirty room with white dresses that shined like the sun. Puts things in perspective, doesn't it?!? We may get dolled up for a social party, homecoming, wedding or even a date night. But do you put on your "Sunday best"to go to Shoe Carnival or Famous Brand Shoes? Does the shoe employee greet you at the door singing praises with hand movements as a sign of thankfulness for your presence coming into the store?
Although this may seem like a ridiculously funny concept, I think it makes my point pretty clear. Next time you purchase a new pair of tennis shoes or pair of socks or a winter coat or even underwear, remember that the same convenience and ability is not shared by everyone in the world . . . it is a luxury.
It is easy living in America to lose sight of reality. The reality that even the poor in our country would be considered a higher class in many parts of the world. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, many Americans who are classified as “poor” by the U.S. government would be middle income globally, living on more than $10 per day. I realize our cost of living is greater, but comparatively most of us are doing extremely well.
We tend to take the little things for granted and although it's not wrong to shop or eat out or do social activities, it is good to remind ourselves of our privileges and never take them for granted. Because while you are waiting in line to check out, there is someone else in the world desiring for their basic needs to be met. They are simply waiting for a new pair of shoes.
You can see more of my photojournalism work from this trip and others around the world at Under The Tree Designs.