TOMS Shares Shoes, Friendship in Nicaragua

In the Palo Verde community in Nicaragua, kids are growing and thriving… and so is fresh produce, thanks to a new garden that was recently planted as a result of a generous donation from an individual who visited the community recently.

With this gift, Feed the Children personnel were able to purchase tools, soil, compost, recycling bottles, hoses and pipes to create a small irrigation system. Students from the local school are tending the garden, which currently features onions and tomatoes, with plans to grow cassava. Children as young as seven are weeding, harvesting, and learning sustainable livelihoods—and are able to eat the fruits of their labor as well!

The community is also benefiting from a new submersible water pump to access fresh water. Up to this point the school has had to rely on the kindness of a local family, who granted access to their well, but were only able to do so for certain hours of the day. Now the school can rely on its own source of water, 365 days a year.

Last month a group from TOMS traveled to Nicaragua for a Giving Trip. The TOMS family includes a network of Shoe Giving Partners around the world and they host these trips to give their team members an opportunity to see the impact they are making and distribute shoes, learn about a Giving Partner, and experience the countries and communities they serve. The TOMS team was able to see Palo Verde firsthand, and we asked one of them to share her experiences in her own words.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 10.53.06 AMTell us about an experience or encounter that will stick with you.

Every encounter with every child, teacher, employee, or volunteer was so heartwarming and humbling, and genuinely contributed to an experience that I will forever hold close to my heart. Each person—big, small and teeny tiny—greeted us with either a smile, a timid look, or excitement at our presence, and gratitude for what we, at TOMS, do for them with the help of our Giving Partners like Feed the Children. But little did they know that they had an even greater impact on my soul than I feel I could have on them. 

I remember one particular boy, about 8 years old. After measuring his feet and trying on his shoes, he refused to keep his shoes on. He asked me to take them off and put his old, broken shoes back on. I was sad. I was sad that it seemed he was not as excited about his shoes as I was giving them to him. So with a heart full of sadness I watched him return to his seat. He didn’t know that I was watching him, but I saw him quietly return to his seat and sit down. Suddenly he hugged his shoes tightly with both arms and kissed them over and over again. My heart lifted. He was so happy and proud of his new shoes, and it warmed my heart that he hadn’t rejected the shoes, he had simply wanted to have a special moment with them first.  

What surprised you most about what you saw while there?

I was astonished by the amount of work, support and thoughtfulness behind each program that Feed the Children takes on to drive toward a better tomorrow. I was absolutely amazed by how much Feed the Children does and how immersed they are in the communities. They know these kids by name—they know their parents, their family history, and see each child as the most important gem on earth. It was incredibly beautiful to see, and I will forever be a lifetime advocate and fan of Feed the Children.

What did you take away from this experience?

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This experience was inspiring… the people, the work, the effort it takes… everywhere I turned I saw and learned something new. It truly takes a community of people who are hopeful about the future and want a brighter future to lift a community out of poverty. And the reality is that it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, hard work, and unwavering commitment from a whole lot of people. 

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Here at Feed the Children, we appreciate the commitment of TOMS and all of our partners! Through their support, we are making a difference in the lives of children in Nicaragua and around the world. To learn more about our international work, click here