22 Jul Safari Got His Shoes!
Last month, a boy named Safari and 40 of his friends at Path of Hope all received a new school uniform and shoes thanks to the Shoeless Safari campaign and many generous gifts given last Christmas through Lahash.
This spring, Lahash media director Casey Schilperoort invited people along on a month without shoes to raise awareness of what life is like in Busoka, Tanzania, for children like Safari. Dozens of people took shoeless walks, raised awareness, and decided to sponsor kids. The kids at Sunnyside Christian School in Washington help raise funds to provide new shoes for these kids.
Safari, who is 10, didn’t have any shoes when Casey met him last year. He had just joined Path of Hope’s program as a sponsored child.
“Safari’s life is quite different from most children in Busoka,” said Enricah Wright, assistant program director at Path of Hope. His parents both suffer from mental illness. His mother also lives with epilepsy. His father is an older man. Providing basic necessities for their family is difficult. They also live on land that is not theirs, so they could be told to move at any time.
Safari is a quiet boy. He rarely talks, said Enricah. But he is respectful and helps his father with the cattle and his mother with the household chores.
When Safari and his younger brother joined the program last year, Path of Hope gave them a mattress. They also visit weekly to see how life is going for Safari and his family.
Before joining Path of Hope’s program, he had never attended church or completed a year of school. He has now completed pre-primary and is in grade 1. He also faithfully walks two hours to Path of Hope’s center in Busoka every weekend to participate in Bible lessons and enjoy time with other kids from the church.
This June, Safari got his shoes as well as a new uniform for school.
Without shoes, children are vulnerable to injuries from thorns, stones or other sharp objects. Worse outcomes like fungal infection or a parasitic infection like jiggers can also result. Those without shoes also face teasing from other children, said Enricah.
Most children walk long distances like Safari—between nine to 12 miles in a normal day. “The children will (now) be able to walk for their long distances trips without fear of bruises and dirt,” said Enricah. “Through this campaign their feet are now protected from germs and acute injuries.”
Emmaline Thatcher, who was a part of the team that traveled to Tanzania in June, paid close attention to the kids’ reactions as the shoes were handed out. “It was really exciting to see their faces light up and squirming waiting for their name to be called,” she said.
After the team finished handing out shoes, Safari took them back to his home where he lives with his parents and two younger brothers. “They were really spirited and excited to see us again,” said Emmaline. “You could see the difference it makes with Safari being sponsored. It was seeing a new hope in his family even though their conditions still aren’t good. They’re living in an older building with thatched roof and mud walls, and they all sleep in one room together—five of them total in a 10-by-10 bedroom. More than anything, you could tell by their spirit that through the sponsorship they’ve been given hope.”