This guest post was written by the Because International team.
A friend at school, a Sunday school teacher, the Davis family who lives down the street — it’s easy to talk to a child about the people they know. Emilio understands who these people are, how to engage with them, and what makes them feel happy. He might share a cultural identity, go to the same church or school, or speak the same language. If we told Emilio that his friend at school was sick or hurting, he would probably want to write a card or find a way to help.
But how can we help Emilio feel compassion towards a family 8,000 miles away? The family doesn’t live on his street or go to his school. They may not speak the same language. We have found, though, that kids can care deeply for people they don’t know — they just need the right framework to recognize this compassion and act on it.
Because International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to using products as solutions to alleviate poverty. Our mission is to provide opportunities for empowerment for kids and families around the world. And we want kids to be a part of our compassionate community that makes this work possible.
We invented The Shoe That Grows, a shoe that expands five sizes and lasts for years, created for kids who are impacted by poverty. Over 300,000 pairs of The Shoe have gone to kids and families in over 100 countries. Churches, mission trips, and mission projects are an integral part of getting shoes to kids.
We have found that The Shoe That Grows is a tangible way for kids to relate to other kids they don’t know. Something abstract like poverty alleviation suddenly connects to a real-life example—shoes. Susie B., who used our mission project curriculum, shared, “The Shoe That Grows deeply impacted our VBS children. They immediately connected with the need for shoes (for school and health) and were empowered that they could be a part of the solution for other children around the world!”
Emilio may not know a specific family in Jordan, Haiti, or Guatemala, but he does know what it’s like to want to stay healthy or be able to attend school. It is important to bridge the big concepts of poverty alleviation to a tangible solution that kids can be a part of.
The Shoe That Grows Mission Project is a free resource that provides a pair of The Shoe That Grows, videos, and printables. Most importantly, the resource provides cultural activities so kids can learn about some of the places The Shoe is distributed. Where it is difficult to have a conversation about such a large issue, our curriculum is designed to tie big concepts to topics in which kids are invested.
For example, children learn and play the traditional national game of Uganda, called Omweso. The activities create a point of connection with someone they don’t know. Emilio might feel connected with kids in Uganda because he loves a similar game, Mancala. The cultural activities become hands-on, positive ways to find common ground with families around the world.
Visit our site to receive your free mission project resource kit to accompany your Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, or Awana program.
Because International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to using products as solutions to alleviate poverty. Kenton Lee founded the organization in 2009 after being inspired to create a growing shoe while working with children at an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Because seeks out and develops products that make life easier for people impacted by poverty and works with partners to produce and distribute them worldwide. This innovative approach allows people impacted by poverty to have more opportunities to succeed.