>So, yesterday I had the distinct honor and privilege of seeing to fruition a wonderful program begun by the School of Amman Ballet. For those who are not familiar with it, the school also put on the Nutcracker for Christmas last year. One of the outreach offerings they had, in addition to free tickets for underprivileged youth to the Nutcracker, was a shoe and sock drive. Area schools with children enrolled in the ballet school collected shoes and socks for needy children in the area around Ma’in. SAB collected 350 pairs of shoes with additional shoes donated through the American Women of Amman.
Yesterday was delivery day. I loaded up the BeanMobile with a group of ladies from the SAB and AWA and we headed off to Ma’in. We had a van with the shoes and a car with additional volunteers in our little caravan. As we drove into the distribution location (the program coordinator’s house as I understood it, although the conversation was in Arabic, so don’t quote me on that), the cars were surrounded by hundreds of kids. It was perhaps a bit daunting, at least for me driving my behemoth of a van worrying about running over little toes in the crush of kids excited that we were there. The kids were friendly and welcoming.
Each volunteer had an assigned task, some helped coordinate the children outside and admit them into the room, some measured feet, some marked hands, and I gave socks and helped find shoes. It was one of those days that helps remind us to be thankful for our blessings. And, the biggest blessings of the day were the children who shyly said Thank You once they received their shoes and socks. There was even one girl who came running to the location in her socks. The socks were in terrible shape and her poor little toes were cracked. It was heart-wrenching. She had come near the end, but we managed to find an appropriate pair of shoes to send her home in.
The funniest moment of the day was when the director of SAB kept trying to fit shoes and socks for an adorable little boy and the woman who was our rock and the “mother” of the community there kept refusing them. Thinking they weren’t the right size or style or SOMETHING, the director tried again. Finally, this lady came to me and asked me to translate for the director (imagine if you will that I was the translator!). It turns out that the child in question was not there for shoes, but was her son. She wasn’t being picky, she just wanted the shoes to go to other more needy kids. I have to admit that we all laughed over the language challenges. Of course, the only reason I ended up as translator is that we wanted all of the actual Arabic speakers to be in the crowd-facing situations. It’s pretty easy to gesture and point when measuring feet and handing shoes, but not so much when giving direction and managing a mob of kids. It was encouraging that my Arabic skills are good enough to get by (which is what I always say when asked) if limited for all of the nuances needed in such situations.
This is a shout out to Melissa Sweiss, Director of the School of Amman Ballet and Carrie who organized the Twinkle Toe program. Thanks for the opportunity to go with you ladies. Thanks, also for the chance to build awareness with the Beans. JujuBean, in particular felt moved by this drive and was the first to place shoes (four pairs of very gently used shoes of HERS) in the containers at her school. You ladies seriously ROCK. As do the ladies of the AWA who gave so generously of their time and arranged donors for 150 pairs of shoes. Go gals of Amman!