This is the third year that ANERA has distributed new TOMS Shoes to thousands of refugee children in Gaza, but this time was even more special. ANERA was able to incorporate the delivery into this year’s de-worming program as a way to help protect children from soil-transmitted parasites.
In Al Mosadar village, one mother stressed how important the shoes are to protecting her children against parasites, a preventive measure she learned during one of ANERA’s parasite awareness sessions.
ANERA has delivered TOMS Shoes and boots to thousands of refugee children in Gaza and Lebanon.
“After getting all the information about parasite infections, I was concerned about my children walking around outside barefoot or in torn sandals.” She says keeping her children’s feet clean and dry is essential. “What I like about the TOMS Shoes is I can protect my child’s feet from parasites and they love wearing them,” adds Iman.
The shoes were also distributed in the impoverished Bedouin village of Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, where poverty is rampant and the price of a good pair of shoes is beyond the reach of most families.
Preschool youngsters there were excited to show off their new shoes and gathered in the school’s playground.
“I love my shoes because they’re new and sturdy,” shouted Anas Darweesh. “They’re comfy and clean,” smiled Ayman Abu Ghazele before running off to play.
ANERA also distributed TOMS Shoes to children affected by the December 2013 torrential rains and flooding in Gaza City. Loay El-Jadbah and his father were among the flood victims who, like thousands of others, were displaced from their home.
Loay and his family took shelter in a nearby school and spent the night with no food, clothes, blankets or shoes. All of their belongings were destroyed. “It has taken us time to get over the disaster and gather clothes and shoes for the family,” Loay’s father explained. So, the delivery of TOMS Shoes to Loay’s school was a most welcome gift. Loay insists he will never take them off.
Wavel is located high up in the mountains near Baalbeck and considered one of the coldest areas in Lebanon where winter is characterized by heavy rain and snow. “I can run fast with my new shoes and my feet stay warm and dry,” exclaimed one of the preschoolers.
Teachers at nearly 70 UNRWA preschools in Lebanon’s Wavel and Nahr El Bared refugee camps where the boots were delivered expressed their thanks and explained that many children were coming to school without proper shoes or winter clothes.
So many Palestinian refugees who fled the fighting in Syria arrived in Lebanon with little more than the clothes and shoes they were wearing.
They were unprepared for the cold, damp winter they had to endure in substandard makeshift shelters in Lebanon’s refugee camps. ANERA’s delivery of warm TOMS boots to thousands of children in the camps was a most welcome relief.