Take a moment and look down at your feet. For most people in the U.S., the view is of a lightly worn shoe and a smoothly paved cement sidewalk. Here, people’s feet are warm, dry and kept from possible stubbed toes or tetanus-imposed wounds. The ability to own one or more pairs of shoes is a luxury that is commonly overlooked and seen mainly as another way to make a latest fashion statement. It is a luxury that people often take for granted. In the developing world owning a pair of shoes is an unusual luxury. There, many people’s feet have dirt caked deep into their nails, old sores that sting, and jagged rocks under their feet opening new sores.
This is reality for many people in developing countries where walking is the primary mode of transportation, making their feet susceptible to disease and injury. For these people, shoes are a distant dream beyond their reach. However, an organization called TOMS Shoes is working to make this dream an attainable one. In 2006, a man named Blake Mycoskie traveled to Argentina, where he befriended many local children with nothing to protect their feet. He felt compelled to help them and went on to establish a shoe company that matches every pair of shoes sold with a pair given to a child in need; over 140,000 pairs have been donated so far.
Mycoskie’s next endeavor is a movement to raise awareness for the plight of these children. He is asking people to go barefoot on April 16 to bring awareness to the have-nots of the world. This is the day to share the pair for pair mission and bring attention to the impact that a pair of shoes can have on one’s life. Mycoskie asks people to remove their shoes and walk for a cause. The event extends internationally; from the United States to Canada, England, France and Italy, people are going barefoot, along with several USF students who have pledged to join the campaign.