I've blogged about why shoes are so important in the past, and experienced my first shoe drop while on the 2011 Put Foot Rally (in areas where many of the children had no shoes at all). The premise is simple: you remove a child's worn, tattered shoes, and put on a brand new pair of South African made Buccaneers leather school shoes. Repeat that process around 700 more times, and that's what we accomplished on Wednesday at Belvue and Belhar primary schools.
It's fun to interact with the different age groups, from the timid and shy youngsters, to the bold and outgoing older students. Every child gives a big smile sooner or later, no matter their age.
One boy in particular, could not stop laughing and kept looking to his friend in the seat next to him, as if there was an inside joke I wasn't in on. As he raised his right foot to my knees, I noticed he had a hole in his sock which left his big toe exposed. He had drawn a smiley face on the tip of his toe and I laughed, realizing this was the reaction he and his friend were waiting for :)
Both Belvue and Belhar schools were extremely kind and welcoming, performing songs and dance, offering cool drinks to beat the heat, and welcomed our whirlwind of shoes and bags with open arms.
While at Belvue, one of the school administrators asked me where I was from. He told me it was my duty to inspire South Africans to understand the importance of giving back to one another. Wherever you're from, I can think of no better inspiration to share than this event.
If you can't join the volunteering, you can follow their journey on the Put Foot Foundation Facebook page or on Twitter @shoesonfeet or search #shoesonfeet. Also, I was too busy to snap my own photos, so most of these pictures are from Bangers and Nash.