WordPress’s Photo Challenge theme for this week is “From Above“
I have been very proud, up to this point, of not having ever posted an Instagram picture of my feet. I don’t know where that trend came from, but I’ve bucked it for so long. Until yesterday.
That’s when I received the above shoes in the mail.
Instead, they are Otto’s.
Otto is the local Guatemalan shoemaker I wrote about in one of my posts while in Guatemala. Though his son was paralyzed by gang violence, he still invites gang members into his shop to learn the craft and trade of shoemaking.
Lemonade International has a long-standing relationship with Otto and his son. They pay him a fair price to make shoes for staff and school-children throughout the year, and encourage his business growth.
He made tracings of our feet while we were there and handmade these shoes for each person on our team. It’s one of the proudest purchases of my life.
The Tom’s company has a good heart and good intentions–and they’ve established a business model that people love (it allows them to passively participate in the greater good)–but there are some downsides.
For every town village that Tom’s does (what they call) a “shoe dump”, there are often local shoemakers who are then out of business for months after the market is flooded with these shoes.
Further, there are often much greater needs in these areas than just shoes. I don’t know how helpful it is to give a pair of shoes to a kid who doesn’t have clean drinking water and may die the following week from starvation.
Also (to my knowledge), Tom’s doesn’t partner long-term with specific communities or work with local organizations already doing work on the ground.
And so, if you really want to make real, lasting, systemic changes to communities, I’d encourage you to partner with an organization much like Lemonade International to effect amazing change in peoples’ lives and communities.
And get some awesome shoes.
CLICK HERE to follow the rest of my Guatemala posts for Lemonade International
[photo of Otto by Scott Bennett]
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