Whether giving away 50 pairs of shoes or 50,000, there wouldn’t be enough to meet the demand in Haiti.
Very profound words by Samuel Darguin, Executive Director of Haitian American Caucus (HAC), a micro enterprising movement he began four years ago to improve the lives of Haitian Americans by providing them with education and essential business tools.
Darguin would know. He’s there on the frontline, along with their partnering company, and Soles4Souls.
Since 2006, Soles4Souls (S4S) has been fulfilling their mission to fight global poverty by distributing gently used and second-hand shoes and clothes to the poor. To date, they’ve handled over 26 million pairs of shoes going to 127 countries and to all 50 states.
Every 45 days S4S sends a container of shoes to HAC in Haiti. A container can weigh up to 25,000 pounds, which equates to approximately 20,000 shoes.
Haiti is the poorest country in the world with 60% of the population living on less than $1 per day. In 2010 alone, the island nation suffered the worst earthquake in 200 years, felt the brunt of a Hurricane Tomas and dealt with a cholera outbreak that claimed thousands of lives. As one can imagine, the locals anxiously awaited life’s basic needs of food, medicine and clothing.
All the more reason Zappos’ charitable group, Zappos for Good, felt humbled and grateful to be a part of S4S and HAC’s distributing efforts. This past January, after months of collecting donated shoes and clothing from employees and customers alike, four Zapponians accompanied these donations to the coastal region of Montrouis.
Jeremy Kettle and Todd Martin from our Give Team (an integral extension of Zappos for Good), Mikey Mineeraj and Sarah Weinbaum from our Audio Visual Team, along with S4S’s COO, David Graben, helped carry out the function of HAC’s grassroots program.
How does the program work?
Instead of donating the goods directly to those in need, the items are first distributed to women in the community who are involved in the micro enterprising program. These women have been trained to initiate and operate their own businesses, and the donated goods become their inventory. These women are now able to build their own homes, put their children in schools and support their families and community with the profit from the sale of their goods. The people of the community are able to afford the donated goods, which are sold to them by the women at a very low price.
Jeremy and Todd shared with me their amazement over how the crowds of people waiting for those shoes blossomed from several dozens to a couple hundred within just minutes. Due to the language barrier, the verbal interaction was limited. However, because huge smiles and elated expressions are universal, they knew these women and their families were forever grateful.
How can I donate?
Simple! Start by gathering all of your unused shoes and clothes, click here to print out a prepaid shipping label and send your goods to us! We worry about the rest.
From this day forward, I have a whole new awakening when it comes to giving. Won’t you join me?