One Day Without Shoes!May 28th, 2011 by IT Director
It’s hard to experience life in someone else’s shoes when they don’t have shoes to wear in the first place. Far removed from the daily sufferings of people in poverty far away, we rarely if ever stop to think about what their lives are like.
This all goes to show how easy is it to neglect what we take for granted. What we don’t perceive as a problem, we assume not to be a problem. For millions worldwide though, being shoeless is a problem. A painful, callusing, blistering problem.
Poor children round the globe cannot afford basic footwear, much less fitting footwear. A team of girls from Hwa Chong has chosen to focus on this precise problem with their Service-Learning project – ‘One Day Without Shoes’.
The concept is simple. Students purchase a shirt for ten dollars, which gives them the right to walk around school shoeless for a whole day. All proceeds go to World Vision Singapore. The team will also organize a collection drive for old shoes on Shoeless Day, extending opportunities for student participation. It is a concept fronted by TOMS, a shoe company which is highly involved in work in the developing world.
The shirts have further publicity value outside of the event. When the adorable design is publicly worn, members of society would have increased awareness about the plights of those in need. This would hopefully go some way towards inspiring more work for the underprivileged in society.
Such an unorthodox manner of fundraising meant that multiple levels of red tape had to be dealt with. In a school where wearing anything less than covered shoes is punishable by demerit points, convincing the school to allow a large swathe of students to go barefoot was challenging. Thankfully, the school eventually relented, flexing the school rules in the name of charity.
In planning, the team also had to make provisions for a whole host of hypothetical concerns ranging from possible injury to special toilet cubicles marked out specially for participants. Executing the project has been less straightforward than initially thought! Solid organizational and problem-solving skills have been honed through the process, which will no doubt be valuable learning points for the team’s future.
The team has spent about three weeks canvassing for support among the school population through a host of publicity gimmicks, including an electronic message, morning announcement and a banner. The novelty and meaningful nature of the project has been recognized by Hwa Chongians, who have signed up for it enthusiastically.
Many Service-Learning projects are fundraisers disconnected from the causes they are dedicated to. People may donate and purchase charity merchandise, but there isn’t always that personal connection. The valuable opportunity we get to experience their lives by walking in their steps isn’t something usual – though it is important and altogether meaningful.
In striking a balance between helping beneficiaries and driving the message of awareness home, the team has certainly done a good job by bringing ‘One Day Without Shoes’ to Hwa Chong.