Day 337: Shoes, and Who Deserves Them

We are in the second day of a two day process to pass out the first batch of our shoes – some 250 of them – to the kids at Tumaini. It is taking much, much longer than we expected. This should not be surprising, clearly.

One of the more frustrating, if not maddening, parts of the experience has been that we are dealing with children who mostly have never had shoes that actually fit, and thus argue about sizing to no end. They invariably want shoes that are too small for them, and Lara has to go through demonstration number 5 million of showing how big her own running shoes are on her, and why it is important to have some space at the toe so that you do not bleed and break yourself.

However, the problems are more than just sizing ones. As in all life, some shoes are better than other shoes, and the kids have a pretty good idea of which they'd prefer.

We are so grateful to have brought 250 shoes from a variety of sources to Kenya with the help of American Airlines, and we look forward to a promised 400 more in the months to come. However, it is a reality that some are nice new trainers, some are older more worn trainers, some are less attractive non-trainer tennis shoes, and some are even ugly looking hospital nurse shoes.

But there is nothing to do, as shoes (even ugly ones) are better than no shoes. And so we are left explaining this to children who occasionally turn from ecstatic to thoroughly pissed off, as I'm sure I would be if my friend got nice new trainers and I had to have ugly hospital shoes. And particularly if there was no apparent method to the madness of who got nice shoes and who didn't.

In determining who is worthy of nicer shoes, I was reminded of when I was a freshman in college and was engaged in a conversation about how unfair it was that student athletes could get better university housing. A fellow frosh, and now NFL player, offered that there could be some kind of ranking system, whereby those who really contribute to the school – like the class president – could get better housing.

Needless to say, I hated this idea. But then again, he's in the NFL and this afternoon I'm marathon training with six year olds (it's Little Kid day).

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