At one elementary school in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, teacher Fakhrieh Al Zaabouti was saddened when a 7-year-old child arrived to school in tears.
“His left shoe was torn apart and he was so upset.” But, his tears soon turned to joy when he received his new pair of TOMS Shoes.
This is ANERA’s first delivery of TOMS Shoes in Lebanon.
Children in a preschool at a refugee camp near Beirut celebrated with balloons and games when volunteers from ANERA joined UNRWA teachers to fit them with new shoes. “A new pair of shoes is so important for Palestinian children in Lebanon who need almost everything,” one preschool director shared. When entering the camps, most children only have second-hand or torn and battered sandals.
“Normally sandals are not allowed at school, but we bend the rules because that’s all they have. In cold weather, the children wear them with socks to keep their feet warm and dry.” He says many parents are out of work in the camps, and that they struggle to secure the bare necessities.
A new pair of shoes is a luxury many families cannot afford.
Nour and her sister Israa arrived from Syria with their family in January, when fighting in Damascus forced them to flee a refugee camp. It was the second time the Palestinian family had been displaced. “We brought some clothes with us, but not everything. People helped us when we first arrived. They gave us kitchen pots, detergents, shampoo and mattresses, but no clothing or shoes.”
Seven-year-old Nour jumped for joy when asked to try on her pair of new TOMS. “I’m never taking them off, ever,” she shared. Nour said her old shoes were too tight and pinched her toes. “These are so much more comfortable.”
Hassan, another child who received new shoes, said he hurt his foot when he tried to help his family build another room on their house. “Cement got inside my [old] shoes because of all the holes.”
ANERA also has distributed TOMS shoes in Gaza for the second year in a row.