New TOMS Shoes in Gaza Have Tala Running Fast
Thanks to a recent donation by TOMS Shoes, children in Gaza like Tala no longer have to worry about walking to school in sandals.
Tala is a 5-year-old girl who loves to sing and lives in the Al Sawarha neighborhood of Gaza. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up.
Recently, she and her preschool classmates all got new pairs of TOMS Shoes. “We were so excited to get the shoes that we ran outside to the playground. I can jump so high and run so fast!” she says excitedly.
Since 2011, TOMS has donated shoes to the children of Gaza. For children like Tala, who otherwise are forced to wear old, used flip-flops -- even in cold weather -- it makes a big difference.
“Little Tala is so energetic and very good at school,” boasts Fayza, the school’s head teacher. “Education will definitely lead to a better future for her. She hopes to be a teacher and I think she has the ability to make this happen.”
Tala has a 30-minute walk to school, each way. Fayza adds that the kids must cross muddy roads during the winter months to reach the school. “Everything about [my students] inspires me. It breaks my heart to see them suffer and be unable to help. I keep a kit in my closet with glue and thread so I can fix broken shoes for the kids.”
Tala’s father finds work on farms, but supplements that with work as a cobbler. He always finds ways to make Tala's shoes last longer than usual. Unfortunately, many children in the area, like Tala, are poor and can’t afford proper shoes. Lack of adequate footwear presents challenges for the 150 preschoolers in Tala’s neighborhood attending school daily. The young children are most in need of decent shoes during the winter season.
Anera's Education & Economic Development Projects in Gaza
Al Sawarha is a small village in the middle of Gaza, southwest of Al Nuseirat. It has one of the highest rates of unemployment in Gaza. Al Sawarha is a rural community where most residents rely on agriculture and raising livestock as main source of income.
Children in this community must walk long distances to reach their schools due to the lack of transportation serving the unpaved back roads and financial constraints that have made school buses unaffordable.
Children with sandals or other inadequate footwear are at risk of getting cuts and skin infections from walking in streets with sewage and debris.
The decade-plus blockade on Gaza has left deep scars on this poverty-stricken community. Many families struggle to provide the basic essentials for their children like food, school supplies and shoes.
Anera has completed a comprehensive renovation of Tala’s preschool, trained teachers on active learning and provided them with additional resources to support the children. Anera has also connected households to water networks in the village and supported local farmers and women’s small business cooperatives.
The distribution of shoes compliments Anera’s holistic approach to its early childhood development programs, supporting children’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical development and protection.
Wearing proper shoes will help children stay safe and healthy and lessen the economic burden on poor families. Distribution of the shoes also enhances self-esteem among the children, who now have new shoes to wear to school. The new shoes allow the child to attend school regularly and feel confident among their peers.