FHI 360 Partners with TOMS on Shoe-Giving Initiative
Thousands of vulnerable children to benefit in Senegal
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — FHI 360 has joined with TOMS in a partnership that will facilitate the distribution of thousands of new shoes to vulnerable children in various regions of the world. Initially scheduled to take place in Senegal, the shoe-giving initiative was announced today at a ceremony in Dakar. The partnership is facilitated by TOMS’ internationally recognized One for One® program, which provides a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased.
Addressing the health, hygiene and self-esteem needs of vulnerable children, Dr. Albert Siemens, Chief Executive Officer of FHI 360, said the TOMS One for One® model is well-aligned with FHI 360’s focus on providing integrated solutions at the local level. “Something as practical as a pair of new shoes can protect against infection or disease, as well as make it easier to attend school,” stated Dr. Siemens. “This partnership represents FHI 360’s commitment to work with the private sector to advance solutions that improve lives in the regions we serve, and in this case, the lives of vulnerable children.”
Throughout the summer, the shoes will be distributed in the Senegalese regions of Dakar, Louga, Matam and Saint Louis to children served by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)/Senegal BASIC Education Project implemented by FHI 360. Designed to improve access, quality and governance of the Senegalese middle-school education system, the project focuses on providing vulnerable children, including girls, with a quality education; introducing information and communication technologies; improving management of schools; increasing parental involvement; and increasing partnerships between the public and private sectors to support quality education. Aside from mainstream schools, the project also serves the traditional Senegalese Koranic schools, known as “daaras,” where the BASIC project has successfully introduced French-language instruction, math, history, geography and life skills.
While the daaras serve as places of learning, they also house some of Senegal’s poorest children, known as “talibés,” said Guitele Nicoleau, Chief of Party for the USAID/Senegal BASIC Education Project implemented by FHI 360. Representing approximately 25 percent of the total number of children in school, the talibés “are known for walking barefoot night and day, which leaves them vulnerable to cuts and bites from insects and animals. By providing them with shoes, we can help preserve their health and well-being, which directly impacts their time and success in school,” says Nicoleau.
“By enhancing our work in education with something as innovative as the TOMS shoe distribution program, we are taking a valuable next step,” said Henderson Patrick, USAID/Senegal Mission Director. “This initiative has the potential to accent the positive outcomes seen thus far with the BASIC Education Project,” Patrick said, referring to first-time results that show that within three years of implementation, 65 percent of children in the daaras enrolled in the project tested as eligible for mainstream schools. “By providing shoes to these children, we can protect their well-being, keep them in school and build on the project’s success to date.”
Since 2006, TOMS has distributed millions of shoes through partnerships with various humanitarian organizations. “We welcome the opportunity to join forces with an organization like FHI 360, whose integrated approach across health, education and other service sectors allows us to provide a valuable link and practical solution through our shoe-giving program,” said Sebastian Fries, Chief Giving Officer for TOMS. “As we embark on this initiative together in Senegal, we trust that our shoes will have a positive impact on the lives of thousands of children in need and inspire hope among the many who care for them.”
Plans are currently under way for shoe giving in other countries, with target distribution dates scheduled as early as August.
About FHI 360: FHI 360 is a nonprofit human development organization dedicated to improving lives in lasting ways by advancing integrated, locally driven solutions. Our staff includes experts in health, education, nutrition, environment, economic development, civil society, gender equality, youth, research, technology, communication and social marketing — creating a unique mix of capabilities to address today’s interrelated development challenges. FHI 360 serves more than 60 countries and all U.S. states and territories. www.FHI360.org.
About USAID: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent agency that provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. As stated in the President’s National Security Strategy, USAID’s work in development joins diplomacy and defense as one of three key pieces of the nation’s foreign policy apparatus. USAID promotes peace and stability by fostering economic growth, protecting human health, providing emergency humanitarian assistance, and enhancing democracy in developing countries. These efforts to improve the lives of millions of people worldwide represent U.S. values and advance U.S. interests for peace and prosperity. www.usaid.gov.
About TOMS: In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in a village in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One.® Five years later, TOMS realized this movement could serve other basic needs and launched TOMS Eyewear. With every pair purchased, TOMS will help give sight to a person in need. One for One.® As more everyday choices have the power to impact the lives of those around the world, the TOMS movement will continue to grow and evolve. To date, TOMS has given 10 million pairs of new shoes to children in need and has helped to restore sight for 150,000 people around the world. www.toms.com.