“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”
I have read this quote so many times before, but in November of this year, in the simplest of ways, I saw it come to life.
We took a team of four women into San Pedro Sula for a shoe distribution in a barrio near Pedregal. San Pedro is very dangerous and crowded; the second largest city in Honduras with the highest murder rate in the world. We turned into a neighborhood of nearly 1000 shanty homes and pulled up to a community center that was the size of a one bedroom apartment. The children were already lined up waiting on us, with their mothers collectively standing around to make sure they didn’t lose their place. I noticed so many children that day barely clothed, little girls without tops, but perhaps a skirt, toddlers with no diapers on running around. It was heartbreaking.
…Until we started the shoe distribution. “Zapatos, zapatos” they screamed, excited to receive a new pair of shoes when they came into the small room where we fitted them! Smiles erupted as we squeezed their little toes and hugs were the form of currency for this beautiful exchange between us and the children.
A little boy of 6 or 7 came in to be fitted for his shoes. I remember seeing his beautiful face, and the next thing I knew, he had swooped in front of me, taken the shoes out of my hands and started fitting the young boy in my chair. This was Jonathan. He simply wanted to help. He had received his shoes, watched us and now, HE wanted to give. We all watched him in amazement for the next 30 minutes, ushering kids to a chair, fitting them with the proper size and making sure they were taken care of. “Where did he learn this?” I found myself thinking later.
In the few minutes with Jonathan, we were teaching him to give, even if only with our actions. An hour from Jonathan’s barrio in San Pedro Sula is the village of Monte Olivos where one of our microenterprise operations is growing. Families are learning to refurbish and sell shoes to make a profit, and it has transformed them. Yes, we have given shoes there, and perhaps we will again, but we are also teaching them to transform their lives with the second life your gift offers.
There was a circle to the experiences I had in Honduras, giving a pair of shoes to a young boy, seeing the gift transform and urge him to give of himself to others and know that just down the road, the gift of sustainability was transforming a village.
I believe our gifts have stages to them, the butterfly effect is staggering. You never know WHAT your gift will do, or who it will touch. I would ask that you give this year to us for many reasons: perhaps it is to provide the gift of shoes to a young boy like Jonathan, or train a mother to become an entrepreneur and feed her family through microenterprise. Maybe your gift will provide someone the chance to travel with us, forever changing the course of their life. Your gift of a single pair of shoes could travel to Africa and land on the feet of a child entering school for the first time.