by Suzanne Elkind 12/27/14
Today we took the ninety pairs of shoes I collected from the Cambridge Montessori School to different Honduran children. The first kids were a single mother and her four kids. The mother has a mental disability and is unable to work. The neighbors say she is crazy but Catalina, the household helper of Sylvia describes her as “different”. The mayor gifted the land that she lives on. Missionaries made the house. She begs at the neighbors for food and her younger child is 1-month old. According to Sylvia, now that she has four children she is eligible for a free tubal ligation. We were able to find shoes for all three of her kids. They were all so delighted to have new shoes. Some neighborhood children also appeared and we found shoes for them as well. The older neighbor even found a pair of kids rain boots that fit. She was beaming as she works in the fields and has only flip-flops.
Our next stop was the poor suburb of La Ceiba, Buffalo. One of Sylvia’s friends brought us 25 children in need for shoe fitting. We found shoes for all but 5 of the children. At this point, we had run out of the bigger sizes and the look of disappointment on these girls faces was heart wrenching. I just went to the grocery store and bought some croc like shoes in a bigger size hoping to find something for one girl in particular. Her shoes were much too small on her feet and she had the saddest expression on her face.
We then went to another suburb and tried to find shoes for another twenty kids. We started with ten children but very quickly word spread and all the neighborhood kids arrived.
We also stopped at a slum of La Ceiba to offer the remaining shoes to the children there. By this time, we only had very small sizes for kids under the age of 5. There were many dirty shoeless feet and many feet with broken or too small shoes. I was being tapped on by so many hands and I did the best I could to put the shoes on little feet. At one point I almost fell over under the urgent crush of little children and reaching hands. In short order, the shoes were gone. I was left with a great feeling of sadness and satisfaction.
According to Sylvia, there is a big gap between prosperous and really poor people in Honduras. The poor people have very little. Generally, they live in shack type building and the outside serves as their kitchen area. In the areas that we visited the parents work on farms. Farming consists of pineapples, palme africaine and bananas and are all owned by large companies. Many people also work on the farms of wealthy landowners who have sheep or cows. Many of the children of these families don’t go to school. There is no organized structure to ensure that all children go to school nor can the families afford the cost of books and paper. Thus these children have no hope of improving their lot in life.