Africa Trip - Day #8, Part 2 - Nov 15, 2007

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AfricaNov2007 109
the rural parts of South Africa were breathtaking. This is on our way up to Juvo in Ingwavuma

AfricaNov2007 110
Blake and Alejo, founders of TOMS, say cheese

Hauling the shoes into the school

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The gals and I show off our shoes

We visited two schools today. Juvo I believe was the name of the first school. There were only a couple hundred children however. The weather was calling for rain so school had to be canceled. Children end up walking for miles to school, which is why it is common that kids don't go to school in the rainy season.

Our team set up an assembly line of shoe-giving. We sorted out shoes from smallest to largest, sweating all the way down to our ankles in the wooden schoolroom.

"Size 10! Size 7! Size 6!" Blake, Jake, Pam, and Evelina called out.

Joe, Rachel, Mike and I would toss the shoes their way.

"I want scotch," the tall girls with the most beautiful chestnut skin would say. Scotch was their name for plaid - and that was the pattern of choice here. This was a hard-to-please crowd. They knew what they liked and if they didn't get it, they would sit there and sulk, like any other teenager would. It was funny to see the girls with large feet try to shimmy their feet into a size 6 of 7 scotch shoe, pulling feverishly at the heel and writhing their foot like a possessed snake. "I don't think they fit," a voice of reason from our team would say.

Afterwards, the 19-year old preacher, who looked much more mature than 19 - (was he really that young, or was he just fibbing?) gripped my hands strongly and pulled me in for a hug. I kissed his cheek and he laid his warm skin against mine and kissed my cheek in return. "Thank you, thank you. I welcome you back anytime." I thanked him, laughing, as he continued to hug and kiss me, without the least bit of interest in letting go.

The van's music pumped softly to the undertones of giggling kids and the soft scuffle-thump-thump of their newly soled feet. I danced my way over to the circle where we waved our arms wildly.

A debonair child in a blue button-down and khaki pants worked his hips and danced to the music. I took his hand and we circled around - his friends laughing wildly at the sight. I picked up a young girl and dipped her down.

Wilson, one of the school headmasters came over to hug me. I thanked him for our time here. "We're just starting," I said. "We hope to make TOMS bigger so we can give more shoes. This is just a start."

"This is a lot," he beamed. He pulled me closer and gripped my hands. "The children will not forget this. I promise."

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