Special-edition, Congolese-inspired TOMS Shoes
We're teaming up with Giving Partner Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), an advocacy and grant-making organization founded by Ben Affleck, on two Congolese-inspired designs with an additional give. Read More >>
TOMS x charity: water - An Eyewer collaboration
TOMS and charity: water, an organization founded in 2006 (like TOMS!) that’s dedicated to to helping bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, join forces for the first-ever TOMS Eyewear collab! Read More >>
Giving TOMS Shoes in the DRC
Founded by Ben Affleck in 2010, ECI is an advocacy and grant-making organization that works with and for the people of DRC, the third most populous country in Africa, and one that struggled under a cycle of violence for nearly 20 years – particularly in the east. Read More >>
Over the course of the Fall, we’ve taken you on a tour of Peru with Giving Partner Buckner International. We’ve shared stories and images from the field about Buckner’s programming and intimate thoughts from the TOMS Giving Trip team throughout their journey. Now, we hear first-hand from Claudia Leon, the executive director of Buckner, on why she feels her work is so important and how TOMS plays an integral role in Buckner’s humanitarian aid programs.
Whenever someone asks me why I took my job as the Executive Director of Buckner International in Peru, the only answer I have is that “I wouldn’t be able to just not do it.” To do this kind of work, we must feel passion about those in need rather than feeling like it is just a job. This is the way I feel about what I do for Buckner Peru, so each day I give the best of what I have and what I am — to make things better for those we serve.
It is true that daily we see people in pain and poverty, however, it is also true that we can make a difference to change this reality. We can give the gift of hope. The smiles I have seen painted on the children’s faces that were once sad are priceless. Sometimes, results take longer to be seen, but they are deeper changes. For example, when we work with hurting families at Buckner’s Community Transformation Center, we see how the families start to change their dynamics by stopping violence. At the transitional homes we see teenagers graduating university because they were given an opportunity and someone trusted them. In the communities, we can help abandoned children by finding a foster family for them to live with and help reduce malnutrition and parasites with the distribution of humanitarian aid. Whenever I witness these events, I feel grateful to be part of this work.
Being a TOMS Giving Partner has helped us in many ways, such as meeting city leaders in new communities, creating alliances with local authorities and generating confidence among city officials. Everything starts with a first contact and now, and with TOMS, we can assure these communities that we will return every six months. This is a promise we would not have been able to make before.
In our humanitarian aid programs, we work hard to prevent parasites in children and adults who live in the communities we visit. This illness increases the risk of malnourishment and anemia. We work in alliance with local governments to educate them on healthy living and good hygiene habits. We deliver dehydrated food, deworming pills and shoes to reduce the risk of infection. TOMS is a key piece in this work because they allow us to reach more children and teenagers, helping us to broaden our holistic approach in humanitarian aid.
My hopes for the Peruvian youth is very positive and optimistic, though we are still far away from where we are supposed to be as a country. However, I believe that we are on the right track. At Buckner Peru, we are making progress and seeing results — evidence of lives transformed. My hope is that the government will create more equal opportunities for our young people; enabling each to become the person he or she was meant to become.