$10.00 (the cost of two latte's) can buy a new pair of shoes for a child who walks along the dirty, mountainous region of the Andes, to their new school this year.
Carahuasi, Peru is a small village in the Andes mountains, two hours outside of Cuzco, near Machu Picchu.
While most kids in America are getting ready to end school for summer, kids in the Andes mountains are getting ready for school to start. Peru is in the Southern Hemisphere, and as a result, has an opposite seasons, as well as a school year.
When children in America start school, their families often don't even think twice about buying them not just one pair of shoes, but often multiple, brand new pairs of shoes; one or more pairs for school, another for church/dressing up, another pair for sports, and maybe even more for outside activies or school events.
In Carahuasi, the poorest children are not so fortunate.
Here, families are forced to take old tires, custom sew them, to loosely design sandals out of this tire material so their children can have shoes to attend school.
The terrain in the Andes is dry, mountainous, and rocky. The climate can get very cold and windy.
Imagine being a small child, as young as six, walking up steep inclines, down dusty, dirt roads, and walking to school on extremely frigid mornings wearing a pair of simple sandals hand-made from old tires.
What kind of shame might these kids endure? Are those old, dusty-tire shoes, targets for bullying? Signs of shame, guilt-inducing declarations of poverty and lack? What kinds of skin diseases or sicknesses might occur as a result of feet being exposed, fungus growing, or germs lurking around these loosly designed, open toed shoes?
THE BACK STORY - HOW IT ALL BEGAN
In September of 2017, my husband and I went to Machu Picchu for our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Before going, I kept seeing a long, hanging bridge, during worship and nearly every time I prayed for our trip. I had no idea what it meant...
All I knew was that there was a need there. So, my heart began seeking His will and purposes.
Our trip went as planned. We saw Machu Picchu, visited the director of an orphanage in Cuzco, where friend's are adopting from, and toured some amazing cathedrals along the way.
I didn't see one single bridge.
Then, when we were at the airport, on our way home, our tour guide mentioned to us really briefly, "I can see your hearts are for the needy. If you ever want to come to somewhere where there is great need, the village I come from could use your help."
He told us the name of the town, "Carahuasi".
We flew back to Lima, then home, keeping this man and his region in our hearts.
Then, once home, we googled the remote town he mentioned. It was in the mountains of the Andes. I clicked images. To my overwhelming surprise, there was the bridge....
A100ft long Queswachaca Bridge over the river of Apurimac, in the Cuzco region of Peru. It is constructed from traditional hand-made rope so it must be rebuilt every year.
What were the chances?
We knew right then and there we were called back to back to this region to serve the people there.
As the months passed, my husband was ready to head back to Peru. It was then, we re-connected with our friend from the airport. We asked what the need was for the children there. He stated his dad was a school teacher in Carahuasi and that he would inquire about specific needs the children had in that region.
There was talk of backpacks, school supplies, but of all the needs mentioned, shoes seemed like the biggest need.
Again, can you imagine sending your kids off to school wearing a pair of old, worn out, hand-stitched tires?
Shoes were practical and would make daily life easier. Shoes could help prevent sickness, disease, all the while improving general health. Shoes would also equip the children to help more in their family homes, communities, as well as with farming, a trade many of the families practice in the Andes.
School supplies are useful in school, but a pair of well-made, leather soled shoes could last a full year, if sized just right.
BUT WHY PERUVIAN MADE SHOES?
My husband and I toyed with quite a few ideas as far as how to come up with many pairs of well-made shoes for the children at the school house. We met a local pastor who "Sends Shoes", collecting used shoes in America and then redistributes them to different countries such countries like Africa. We loved this idea, but realized the shoes availabe were flip flops, rain boots, and water type shoes.
Our contact in Peru specifically requested "black leather school shoes". We didn't want to send tons of brightly colored crocks to Peru, for example, just to have them not be used or left to liter the beautiful mountains of the Andes.
We also had another contact, a distributer who could possibly ship shoes to Peru, straight from China. However, as we asked God and prayed, we considered a few things:
1) Buying shoes locally would help to support the Peruvian economy.
2) We knew there might be some level of "social acceptance" if we purchased a more familiar, locally styled shoes vs an American version of a shoe they asked for. (Such as "high tops" in place of loafers etc.)
3) We were aware Peruvian customs can be difficult, the cost of shipping can be high, and there was always the risk that a large amount of shoes crossing the border between American and Peru could be confiscated.
Keeping culturally relevant and again, supporting the livelihood of local Peruvian economy was extremely important to us.
As a result, we have choosen to buy the children's shoes in Lima, Peru, personally take them in the air to Cuzco, then drive them ourselves to the village of Carahuasi, two hours across the Andes Mountains.
We are not missionaries, preachers, or anyone special or spectacular. We are just an average family (like yours perhaps), who has seen a need and longs to meet it.
We have been foster parents for the past 12 years, and have done some other work and aide, in places like Guatemala and China.
However, in our decade long of ministry work, we have come to realize, we can't meet all the needs presented to us, alone. We need people like you!
Our hearts are to follow as God leads, and we need your support as we help the poor or needy, or orphaned and handicapped, both locally and internationally.
BUT WHY DO YOU NEED $2600?
When speaking with our friend from the airport, we learned, the school in Carahuasi has 62 children without any "real" shoes to wear to school.
After researching, making calls to Peru and talking to our friend, we seem fairly confident we can buy "leather black shoes" for around $10.00 each, only because we will be buying in bulk.
At the same time, it has been our experience in working with other countries that often the poorer children who get "gifted" items can be bullied and have their goods stolen by stronger, older, or more "influential" kids. There can also be a divide or jealousy when some kids get gifts and others do not.
And although some kids at this school do have shoes, and others do not...it is important to be clear, the whole village of Carahuasi has significant need.
Although my husband and I have not yet started the non-profit in order to raise funds for projects like this, we hope to one day.
Although there is much charity work needed around the world, we do see this particular need as a priority, valuable and vital to the health and wholeness of the Peruvian. And when God presents a need to us, how can we turn away.
We are reminded of scripture that says...
"Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it to Me." ~ Matt 25:40
"If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward." ~ Matt 9:41
I don't know about you, but at our house, we have a "shoe closet". It has probably something close to fifty pairs of shoes in it, shoes we shuffle past and never wear, shoes that were purchased and then only wore once or twice. There are even some shoes sitting there completely unused, perfectly new with the price tags still on them.
We have been convicted...How can we personally just ignore this need in a country that doesn't have the resources or support, opportunities or education that we have, living here in a country like America.
Lastly, I also have to think, "What if these were my kids? What if I was a mother or father in Peru, forced to scavange through a dump or role off the street some used tire, to hand-make my own children's shoes?"
Please know, when you give, we commit to posting pictures of the final delivery, showing you the fruit of your giving, kids with specifically purchases shoes distributed to the children of Carahuasi.
WHEN WILL THEY BE DELIVERED?
Two weeks! That's it! That's all the time we have to buy as many pairs of shoes as possible for these children!
The trip to purchase and deliver these shoes has been set for April 22, 2018. Plane tickets have been purchased to fly from Seattle to Lima, Peru on that date.
A second flight is scheduled to leave Lima for Cusco, Peru on April 24th. Then, on April 26th, a two hour road trip will be made to the town in the Andes mountains, Carahausi.
That same day, every single pairs of shoes purchased by you, will be distributed to the local school. At that time, each child will receive their own, specific pair of brand-new shoes.
TOGETHER, we can make a difference
With your help, children will be able to tred across the steep mountain terrain, kick through dirt, or face the long trek to school...
Smiling in confidence, better prepared for learning, and more fully protected from illness and disease. as the enter school confidently, in their new shoes.
These shoes will likely be the only new, real shoes these kids have ever had.
Would you consider giving even $10.00 (the cost of two latte's) to help a child walk with pride, as they begin their brand new school year?
Your giving truly will make a lasting and direct different to the Andes Mountain children, of Carahuasi.
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