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Location: Cusco, Peru
Giving Partner: Operation Blessing International
We’d like to introduce you to Fabiana, who recently received new TOMS Shoes from Giving Partner Operation Blessing International (OBI).
Fabiana is a soft-spoken 12-year-old girl who lives in Peru. She likes to help her mother take care of her siblings and their farm animals. Every day after school, Fabiana herds and walks her family’s sheep; so she spends hours walking up and down the mountains and through pastures with the sheep in all sorts of weather. Before receiving new TOMS Shoes, she went about her activities in old, thin sandals. These long walks in Cusco’s harsh (and very cold!) mountain climate gave Fabiana’s feet blisters and bad burns, wounds that have transformed into thick, uncomfortable calluses.
In Peru, OBI gives new shoes to children in some of the most impoverished communities in Lima, Iquitos and Fabiana’s hometown of Cusco, as well as across the world in communities across China.
Operation Blessing gives new TOMS Shoes to children through their Healthy School Programs and Water Committees, programs that encourage schoolteachers to educate students on clean water conservation, nutrition, proper hygiene and self-esteem both at school and at home.
The team distributing shoes with Operation Blessing told us that when it was Fabiana’s turn to receive her shoes, she seemed a bit embarrassed to take off her worn-out shoes because of her calloused feet. However, after helping her put on her new TOMS Shoes, they saw a big smile spread across her face.
“I like them,” Fabiana said shyly of her new TOMS. “These are my first pair of [new] shoes.”
For Fabiana and many other children, new shoes don’t just mean improved physical health. They offer a new sense of pride and improved self-esteem.
Dr. Sandra Arbaiza, Operation Blessing’s director of Medical Programs, told us, “…Good health is improving how a person feels about themselves, and removing the shame they may feel. Good health can come by good medicine, but it can [also] be given in the form of a canvas shoe.”