El Salvador's Neediest Receive Blessing of Shoes

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (Sept. 4, 2009) – Thousands of El Salvador’s neediest children and elderly received new shoes last week, as part of an initiative overseen by Food For The Poor. The relief agency has been working in El Salvador since 1997, and has been involved in housing, water, educational, agricultural and animal husbandry projects. This shoe distribution project is the latest effort to bring much-needed items to the poor.

More than 5,000 pairs of new shoes were distributed to areas including an orphanage, an elderly home and to the children who live along the Paleca and Royal Street train tracks.

At the Natalia de Siman orphanage, about 60 children received new shoes, some for the first time. The girls at the home, one of nine supported by FFP’s Angels of Hope program in El Salvador, range in age from 1 to 16. In addition to providing food and other basic supplies to the orphanage, FFP has been able to supply a cistern for fresh water, a school bus, and sewing machines and materials. On Wednesday, the scene at the home was pure joy with smiling girls trying on their new visors and hot pink sandals.

“These shoes are a blessing to the poor receiving them, especially to the children,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “Something as simple as a new pair of shoes can make a big difference to the poor, and we are honored to work with these partners in helping to make that difference.”

The project was a joint effort by Food For The Poor, Brother’s Brother Foundation and Crocs. When the project is finished this month, more than 15,000 people will have received shoes.

The distribution also was in collaboration with Fr. David Blanchard, who works as a missionary in El Salvador. In the late 1980s, Fr. Blanchard began a mission in El Salvador in a community of displaced people called Calle Real. He has continued to serve there since, and with the assistance of Food For The Poor, helped to transform the area into a stable community. Fr. Blanchard, also with the guidance of FFP, created in 2002 an organization called the New Horizons for the Poor Foundation.

“It is one thing to choose to help the poor, but what does that option mean when one lacks the resources to help the poor? Food For The Poor responded to our needs and it continues to do so in a variety of ways,” said Fr. Blanchard. 

Perhaps the most compelling scene during the distribution was along the tracks of Calle Real, where Fr. Blanchard has worked for so long, and where children still are born and raised in dangerous proximity to the trains. Thousands lined the tracks for shoes. Some of those waiting were blessed by the washing of their feet by staff from Food For The Poor and Brother’s Brother Foundation, before receiving their new shoes.  The ritual foot washing was included as a sign of continued commitment to serve the poor.

Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. We provide emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.

CONTACT: Kathy Skipper
Manager, Marketing and Public Relations
954-427-2222, ext. 6614