Haiti—it’s a country we’re all familiar with thanks to media and celebrity volunteer exposure. We watch as they struggle through existing poverty topped by natural disasters. Families and children fight not only to rebuild their homes but to come up with everyday items we take for granted. Without a pair of shoes in Haiti, it may be impossible to attend work or school, and being barefoot makes one more prone to diseases. This is not only true for Haiti, but for those without shoes in many countries all around the globe.
It’s estimated that 300 million children globally lack a pair of adequate shoes. In the United States we throw away about 700 thousand tons of footwear and apparel each year. Soles4Souls’ mission is to change that by donating and delivering shoes to the shoeless.
Soles4Souls collects shoes and delivers them to the people in need. Volunteers collect shoes by hosting a shoe drive. Soles4Souls processes all of the collected shoes by sorting and grading them. They have provided shoes to over 20 million individuals across the globe. Not only have they donated shoes, they have also created thousands of jobs in developing countries by supporting micro-enterprise companies. This allows them to collect, donate and distribute millions of articles of clothing and shoes, both in the U.S. and around the world by utilizing the local workers in each particular area.
Dianna Hornsby Perdue, an elementary school teacher living in Milledgeville, Georgia, discovered Soles4Souls a little over 2 years ago. She was so passionate about helping the people of Haiti; she decided to host a shoe drive at her elementary school. Dianna asked her students to participate in a Soles4Souls shoe drive. After two years of collecting shoes to donate to Soles4Souls, Dianna and her husband decided to go on a trip to Haiti with the Soles4Souls team.
While in Haiti, Dianna and her husband participated in 4 different shoe distributions to women and children. Inspired by the overwhelming and emotional experience, Dianna knew there was more for her to do. Once she returned to Georgia, she decided to continue her communication with the people she met in Haiti. Her interpreter, Paul, became a close friend. He assisted Dianna and her husband in their continuation of giving and travel.
Dianna’s passion for Haiti grew thanks to Soles4Souls’s organization, which hosts many travel teams each year through its travel division, Travel4Souls. In December of 2012, Dianna returned to Haiti to visit a small school. Inspired by her experiences working with Soles4Souls and the children she connected with in Haiti, Dianna decided to start her own non-profit, L.O.V.E. for Haiti. Her non-profit works to raise funds to support the elementary school and its teachers and students she deeply connected with while traveling with Soles4Souls.
Dianna returns to Haiti in late June with Soles4Souls.What started as a local shoe drive, ended in getting directly involved with multiple trips to Haiti. For more information on how you can travel with Soles4Souls, check out the info below.
TRIP DETAILS: Anyone can travel with Soles4Souls through their travel programs, called Travel4Souls. You can get started by fundraising the cost or you can simply pay the cost without fundraising. Fundraising advice and a personal fundraising website are available on the Soles4Souls website. The average trip cost is around $2,000 per person, depending on the trip location. Each trip lasts about one week.
The funds you raise will go towards roundtrip airfare (Miami, Florida to Haiti or chosen country), lodging, food, ground transportation, an interpreter, security, and the shipping cost of the shoes. Soles4Souls assists their volunteers in creating a website for fundraising purposes.
Trips are ongoing. You can travel to Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Tanzania, and more.
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Jessica is a writer and on-camera host. Her work focuses predominantly on travel, culture, and leisure. She’s trekked all over the globe, but feels there is no place like New York City. She has a passion for working with underprivileged children. Travel, cinema, and dining al fresco are a few of her favorite things