Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Global Soles Donation

Monday, the founder and two officers of the non-government organization called Global Soles came to Swaziland to give 100 hundred s hoes to children. Global soles is based out of New York. The founder, Rotimi, said he went to South Africa on a mission trip with his church, last year and was so struck by the numbers of children without shoes that he got a vision of providing shoes to the orphans and vulnerable children. Somehow, I’m not really sure how, he found out about Swaziland and was put in touch with Rev. Nyameka and came to Swaziland or when he first tried to contact Rev. Nyameka. This was their first attempt to do this so it was a learning experience for all. In normal Africa tradition, it ended up being a last minute fire drill that wasn’t very organized because of the lack of communication from one or both parties. I’m not saying that any of this was on the part of Global Soles. Communication methods and standards are different in Swaziland than they are for us Americans. Communication and the Swazi way of planning and lack of attention to details take a lot of patience and getting used to for Americans. However, I must say thin gs always seem to work out in the end and though it was a hectic, in the end worked out fine and the children went home with shiny new shoes.

The secretary from St. Paul’s contacted the 10 schools in central circuit on Friday asking them for the names of 10 children and their shoe sizes. The school was also supposed to bring the children to St. Paul’s on Monday morning, no later than 9:30. On Friday, we thought if we got the shoe sizes we could buy the shoes and have them waiting at St. Paul’s Monday morning. What we didn’t know was how to pay for them and so as a result, we couldn’t get the shoes until the team arrived and of course they arrived much later than 9:30 due to no fault of theirs. So when they finally arrived around 11:00 we rushed to a shoe store in Manzini and purchased basically all of the shoes they had (81 pairs) We brought them back to St. Paul’s around 12:30. Then we started handing them out, having the children try them on. It took us about and hour and a half to distribute the shoes exchanging for different sizes if possible. Lucky for us, unlucky for the children, only about 60 children actually showed up. That cut the distribution time down and gave us a little wiggle room to fit the child with the appropriate size shoe instead of what they were signed up to get. I’ll try and exchange the shoes for appropriate sizes and deliver them to the children who we couldn’t fit with shoes and who weren’t able to come when the 3rd term starts in September.

The most memorable and in retrospect comical part of the day was my transport duty. I had to drive up to Lomngeletjane to pick the children up and bring them to St. Paul’s and then take them back at the end of the day. Picture 10 kids who have never ridden in a car plus Thembie, the woman who started the carepoint, stuffed into my automobile. Five k ids were on the back seat and 5 more were in the way back. I thought of taking a picture, but visions of possible liability kept me from doing so. Anyway, the ride started with quiet children, but by the time we were at St. Paul’s the kids, especially the boys were giggling loudly. Unfortunately when I opened the door in the way back I discovered that one of the girls had thrown up. Wonderful. Thembie cleaned up the car. When it was time to return home they anxiously got back in the car for the return trip. We were having a great time laughing and I was asking them, with the help of Thembie, to tell me in English the names of the animals we passed (a cow and a goat.) I’m sure they thought I was crazy, but I was very impressed that they could identify the animals in English. Unfortunately, I got half of the way up the road to Lomn geletjane and saw that I was on empty. There was no way I could run out of gas on that dirt road in the middle of now where by myself on the way home. So we had to turn around and drive to the nearest town. On the way there the little girl that threw up in the morning said she had to throw up again. So I quickly stopped the car by the side of the road, she got out and got sick. We took off again and just before we were at the Petrol station, another girl threw up all over without any warning. Great. So we pull over again. Luckily there was a hardware store where we stopped. I went in and asked if they had any paper towels or other kind of paper. They looked at me with blank stares and then finally shook their heads no, or maybe that they didn’t understand. So I asked if they had cloth. They did have some cloth which I bought, cut into strips, asked for a couple of plastic shopping bags and went back to the scene. By now most of th e kids were out of the car running around and the girls were still throwing up. Thembie got the kids cleaned up, their sweaters into the plastic bags and wiped up the back seat as best she could. I bet we were a scene by the side of the road.

The bad news is by the time we got back to Lomngeletjane it was almost 5:00 and it was very windy and getting cold and the kids had to walk home. Some of them had to walk a long way and I’m sure they didn’t get home before dark. If we had been in the States, parents would have been calling and going crazy. I wonder what th e mothers were thinking and feeling when their children were gone for so long and so late. I said a prayer for safe travel for them as they walked home.

If you want to find out more about Global Soles, go to their w ebsite: .

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