78% of Haitians live in poverty, earning less than $2 a day.
… to be born into a middle class American family. I rode a bus to school, holding a lunch box full of food. I had books to read and balls to dodge at recess. I didn’t have to worry about wading through flooded roads rife with cholera, or arriving barefoot to a school where I’d be discriminated against because of my family’s poverty.
I was on my way to Domond with the TOMS team, to distribute shoes to nearly 300 children in a new primary school supported by Partners in Health and its sister organization, Zanmi Lasante. PIH began in Haiti in 1987, with the mission of providing healthcare to the world’s impoverished, and ZL is the country’s largest nongovernmental health care provider, operating clinics and hospitals — including the country’s largest teaching hospital — at 12 sites, serving an area of 1.3 million people.
Cate Oswald is the Senior Program Officer for PIH in Haiti. She worked on earthquake disaster relief in 2010, and is currently serving in Liberia helping fight the Ebola outbreak. We’ve worked with this amazing woman since 2009, the year our TOMS shoe distributions began in Haiti.
Cate says that her favorite part of TOMS and Partners In Health relationship is the look on children’s faces after they receive their new shoes, and the immediate sense of self-confidence they are instilled with. She believes that children nurtured by Partners In Health-supported schools are the future of Haiti.
She’s also seen new shoes make a difference in the health of the children who wear them. After the earthquake, when the country was ravaged by cholera that thrived in contaminated waters, Cate and the ZL team saw TOMS Shoes as an additional resource in fighting the outbreak. “They were used as a first-line of protection against the outbreak,” she explains.
When you choose to wear Toms, you’re offering kids in Haiti more than shoes. You’re giving them a shot at a childhood that all kids deserve-- focused on education, and free of preventable disease. One for One.