When we were first in the planning stages of "JustOne" we really struggled over our wording. In our research we came across an article about TOMS that was criticizing them. (If you are unfamiliar with TOMS - they offer a pair of shoes, for every shoes purcahsed. We love their shoes!) The author claimed to be well traveled and said they had never seen children without shoes and that this apparent urgent need for shoes was false.
I wish that were true. I wish every child had shoes.
In Kenya, the words of this article came back to me as we walked the Kibera slums. The ground is mounds of garbage, broken glass, and filth. Animals and birds roam freely. I saw more than one person relieving themselves on the ground. And sadly, I saw incredible amounts of children in bare feet amongst all this filth.
But I saw something else also…. TOMS. Not on every child - but they were there. Well worn, much needed TOMS.
And this hit home again about being accountable and trustworthy here at JustOne. Throughout our trip, we have heard people share how they were promised things by humanitarian groups - and promises were never fulfilled. In Uganda, the women shared how there would be calls for former child soldiers from humanitarian groups. They would go sign up, the organizations would receive funding… and nothing else happened. (So happy to hear this was not the case with two organizations specifically that we love - Watoto and World Vision).
Our guide in Kenya also reminded us to never over promise to the people we meet. At one place we had said “see you later!” and so at the end of our time in Kibera, he had us go back to say goodbye to them so that we honoured our words – and did in fact see them later.
He also encouraged us to support them by purchasing their jewelry but to be cautious when offering vows of future commitments. He explained it’s better when we are able to share our profits back to these communities to surprise them. Rather than over promising and under delivering if something came up. He stressed how the people here have been promised and promised and promised to… and seen nothing else besides those empty words.
We plan to be here to stay. We are brainstorming with the organizations how best to support them and their communities with resources from JustOne. But we are not making firm promises YET… but can't wait to surprise them with a tangible example of our love. We want to always be true to our word and promises.