I’m sure you’ve seen them around town. Kids, women, children, dogs… all wearing these plasticy rubberized shoes. When I first laid eyes on them I was like, “No way. People are actually wearing these?! WHY?!”
It’s true, I was a nay sayer. So much so that I was actually going to personally make it my mission to take pics of these on people’s feet and then post about it each day. And there would be plenty of pictures because crocs were everywhere! Then I got myself a pair for camping and thought, WELL NO WONDER! They were the perfect footwear for all terrain activities. Water, sand, rain, dirt, grass… maybe not hiking, but I didn’t try.
Cool, now I get it! Now I know why the world has embraced the lightening friendly footwear!
Fast forward a few years to last year December. I had the awesome opportunity to go to Ethiopia with a missions team. We went to remote places where foreigners never go. We went to places all foreigners visited. It was an amazing time and so heartwarming and heartbreaking all in the same breath.
But you know what I noticed. Feet.
See, if you have a pair of shoes in Ethiopia, you are VERY well off. Doesn’t matter if your shoes have holes and your toes stick out of the front. Doesn’t matter if they have half a sole, because if you have the other half, you are golden. Doesn’t matter if they are the wrong size and the laces have never been white. It doesn’t even matter if you are wearing pink and you are a little boy. You have shoes.
The amount of children in no shoes was alarming. The ground was rough and it was hot. Some of these kid walk 2-5 miles to get to the school building. With no shoes?! With no shoes.
So, as we go around the remote and not so remote places, my eyes flutter to feet. Feet that need pedicures. Feet that need their toe nails clipped. Feet that have shoes with more holes then swiss cheese. Feet in crocs…
Wait a minute. That lady is wearing crocs. Oh and look that little boy has a pair. And that little girl in the next town over is wearing some. Her parents don’t have shoes, but she has crocs.
You know what else I noticed? All but one pair of crocs on the beautiful feet of these people were still whole, intact, unbroken! Toes stayed covered. Heels stayed in shoes. The children ran with them. The worked with them. They walked to school in them.
Oh my goodness, crocs are PERFECT for these people!
In Ethiopia it rains… a lot. It’s not the typical Africa pictures you see on the Discovery channel. It’s not all Savannah Grass and sun. Don’t get me wrong, it is hot there too. REALLY HOT. But, they have a rainy season where it rains so much they have this muddy sort of mess. Check out the guys shoes on the left? You think he’s going to be drying those bad boys out tonight when he sleeps? What about getting them to any sort of clean?
That is when you see the guy with the crocs on. He is rinsing his shoes in the muddy water and in no time, they are much cleaner and back on his feet. When he goes into his tin shelter tonight, he will take them off and they will be dry by morning.
My eyes are now open and I start counting the number of crocs I see on the feet of these people. Four, five, twelve… Now I’m counting the feet of those who have no shoes. Sixty-five, eighty-five, over one hundred all in the same room. All children. All in need of shoes.
My time ended in Ethiopia, but the feet of these people stayed in my heart. Okay, more then their feet stayed in my heart. But it seemed like a lot of the time I was looking at the feet of the American children and wishing I could do something even for a few of the families in Ethiopia.
Then garage sale time came and crocs were turning up at almost EVERY sale I stopped at. That’s when the idea hit me like a ton of bricks! Or a ton of crocs!
We, Americans, are discarding the crocs for fashion reasons and Ethiopia can really use them for practical purposes!
The best news of all… I get to go back to Ethiopia in March as part of a small team of individuals who will work with the women and children of Gojjo Ethiopia. The remote place we visited and the place where the most Ethiopians had no footwear at all!
That’s when “WHAT A LOAD OF CROC!” was born.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to collect all the crocs you can from garage sales (at decent prices a buck or two). Ask your friends. Dig through your closets. Find all the crocs you can!
Now, take a pic of you and your gang with the crocs and then send them to me! I will put all the crocs in a large suitcase and put a book together for the Ethiopians to see. THEY LOVE pictures and will be thrilled to see where their footwear came from!
I will be collecting donations from now until March 2012.
For more information, please contact me and I’d be happy to answer any questions you have.