Thursday, January 31, 2008

The CROCS have it

The Crocs have it

We were at the shanty compound called Walale, making a visit to the feeding program of the local group of Franciscan Sisters. The room was dark and the smell of fish cooking, along with the acrid smell of sweat, confirms that one is in a very poor place. A woman pulled on my shirt and smiled as she pointed to my shoes. I looked down and saw two pair of Crocs—hers and mine. We shared little else, but we did share the same kinds of shoes.

I began looking around and lo and behold, I saw brightly colored Crocs on any number of feet—adults and children. When I think Crocs, I think Colorado, free spirits, comfort, gardening shoes—but not the abject poverty of Walale. Our Crocs were Alan’s and my Christmas gifts to each other, given for their comfort and what would prove to be enormous practicality in a Zambian rainy season. But these Crocs on so many callused feet? They were the gift of the Foundation associated with the Crocs corporation. They came by the container full to Africa and Sister Josephine gave them freely to hundreds in these shanty compounds. I wonder if the workers at Crocs even know of this generosity or if they could imagine the dusty brown feet that found shelter from ground parasites by wearing their shoes.

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