Coprodeli is an amazing organization that provides education, housing, health care, food security, job training and more to families living in some of the most impoverished communities in Peru. In 2010, Coprodeli began giving TOMS Shoes in combination with their other services.
We sat down with Coprodeli to talk about the difference being made by giving shoes to children in need. And here’s what they had to say:
Tell us about your education program.
We feel that education is so important, especially in Peru. Peru has one of the worst education systems in all of Latin America. Coprodeli has 16 schools in three major areas of Peru: Lima, Ica in the south, and a jungle region called San Martín. All of Coprodeli’s schools are in urban, marginalized areas with high populations right outside the city. We provide quality education to children living in some of the most challenging areas of Peru. We educate over 5,000 students, ages 2-17. And we ask for a lot of family involvement. One of the most important parts is having parents involved in their children’s education.
We feel that education is vital in underdeveloped communities. It doesn’t matter that Peru has a growing economy if it doesn’t have an educated youth.
How do new shoes help support the work Coprodeli does in these communities?
If kids don’t have proper uniforms or shoes, they are not allowed in schools. A student who shows up without a uniform and shoes is turned away from class. Often what you see is kids wearing shoes to school that are too big or torn up and overused. Many kids attending schools in marginalized areas do not have proper footwear. And the kids without shoes and uniforms don’t even show up to school.
There’s so much dust and pollution and when we’re sizing kids, we run into very dirty, worn and torn feet. Protecting the foot is an especially important part of a kid’s ability to get to school. It also provides motivation. It’s an important part of school and community development; coming together to work and study together, which is the main focus of what Coprodeli does.
How does giving new shoes affect the kids?
Children are ecstatic. Many of them have never owned a new pair of shoes, so it’s not just a new item, but also a new experience. You hear about how proud and excited they are to be wearing new shoes. It’s really great and is a tangible necessity. But emotionally, it’s very, very important for kids as well, especially for self-esteem. Nearly all of our children wearing TOMS Shoes are out playing soccer and participating in physical education…kids are very proud of this new gift and feel privileged to have received it.