While a typical visitor to the AmeriCares Family Clinic in El Salvador might be looking for medical aid, the Quintanilla sisters came in search of something else – new shoes.
Sisters Yasmin, Meybelline, and Johana were each recipients of a new pair of shoes, generously provided through AmeriCares partnership with TOMS shoes.
Shoes are especially important to children in developing countries – protecting them from soil-transmitted diseases and even determining whether or not a child can attend school, where shoes are often part of the uniform.
TOMS, which has been called a "company with a conscience," promotes a mission similar to AmeriCares by providing for those most in need around the world. The basic premise of TOMS business model is simple.
With every pair purchased, TOMS will donate a new pair to a child in need. In June, AmeriCares delivered 16,000 pairs of shoes to our family clinic in El Salvador.
Since the shoes arrived, the AmeriCares clinic staff has been working to distribute the shoes to patients, schools and other community groups in El Salvador, ensuring that the shoes reach those most in need.
AmeriCares and TOMS are proud of this very special delivery. In addition to the first pair of shoes, AmeriCares plans to distribute replacement shoes to children once they have outgrown the current pair or they wear the shoes out.
"Hookworms, which can lead to iron deficiency and chronic protein loss, are one example of the nasty infections that can result when feet are left unprotected," AmeriCares Medical Director Dr. Frank Bia said. "While one may not initially realize it, shoes really do pose incredible health benefits."
For children in developing countries shoes are often incredibly difficult to come by. Without shoes, children are susceptible to painful cuts and sores on their feet which can become easily infected. Additionally, children are more vulnerable to diseases, such as intestinal worms, that can easily penetrate through bare feet.