Blog by Ideas Partnership volunteer Kaltrina Kusari
If you enter any store towards the end of August, you immediately see “Back to School” displays. All those colorful notebooks and backpacks lure kids in, making them believe that they really need those items. For the parents who can afford to spend, trips to such stores are fun because their kids are happy. Seeing such families shop for school materials is also fun because it is nice to see kids excited about school.
At the same time, you cannot help but wonder about those kids who cannot afford to buy a new backpack, or a new set of pens and pencils.
I grew up in a family that could afford to buy me all the things that I liked. I never wanted too much, but it was nice to have that one red backpack that was so popular. I did not even feel the weight of the books in my way to school – I was too happy to notice! I was so caught up in my own happiness that I barely noticed my peers who entered the class holding their heads down.
It was not until last summer that I put myself in the shoes of my less fortunate peers, working with kids who could barely afford to eat. The faces of my students made me aware of my ignorance as a 7 year old. These kids did not want fancy backpacks, or the latest pencil set – they wanted something much more essential – they wanted an education. And to get an education, they needed shoes and clothing.
So I got involved with TIP to try and make a difference in these kids’ lives. Unfortunately, I left Kosova to finish my university studies. I was sad to leave because there was so much I could help with there. Again, I was ignorant to the possibilities that globalization has brought about.
I kept in touch with TIP and helped with small tasks.
One of my tasks earlier this summer was to find a foot-measuring device, so we could spend less time trying to guess shoe sizes to match up the children’s feet with shoes we’d been donated. We 18 boxes of shoes arriving from tireless supporters abroad (thanks particularly to Margy Grosswendt and friends in the US, Barbara Hawkins and the people of Port Isaac, and David and Sarah Whetham, as well as others), and children in two project communities – Fushe Kosove and Janjeve – to try to match with the shoes. TIP volunteers spent many hours trying to find the appropriate shoes for these kids, and all that time could have been spend on other activities that would assure these kids a better school year.
So, early this summer, I e-mailed a few shoe companies asking them to donate a kid’s foot-measuring device. Many companies replied, getting my hopes up, but then saying that they only ship within their countries. None of the companies that I contacted had a foot measuring device to donate. When I had almost given up, I received an e-mail from a research team from Austria. The Stomp Kids shoe company, which I had contacted earlier, forwarded my e-mail to a team that develops foot-measuring devices. The “chidren’s feet – children’s shoes” research team (www.kidsfeet.info) sent the device as soon as I sent them our mailing address.
Now, measuring feet size has turned into a new type of amusement for the new students. And I’ve realised this is one of the benefits of globalization – from a town in Canada, I can contact people in Austria who will help kids in Kosova.This results in happy kids with shoes ready for another wonderful school year…and a happy Kaltrina who feels that she has done something to help her society!
A huge thank you, faleminderit and hvala to the Children’s Feet-Children’s Shoes team, from a bunch of children who will be walking proudly to school next week to join their peers.