Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Guest Post...Barefoot for a Reason and Proud of It

Today, I'm proud to have a guest posting.  Hunter, our oldest son, decided on his own to advocate for ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES with his school, who I feel knows little of social or humanitarian activism.  He spent his Friday and Saturday working on a proposal, which he partially wrote up and partially plagiarised (as TOMS intended).  Below is the letter he has written to the headmaster asking for clearance for the student body to participate in ODWS.  Proud of this kiddo.  He's a keeper.

Dear Mr. SO and So,

Last spring, my family spent 5 weeks in Africa.  I saw life in Ethiopia and in Tanzania.  This opened my eyes to the true meaning of poverty.  People all around me (people, who became my friends and family), people just like you and me that happen to live in a poor country without infrastructure, struggled just to live.  I came to know children, who would never attend school simply because they do not own shoes.  I saw women climbing barefooted down mountains with bundles of sticks on their back hoping to sell them.  Lack of shoes made their journeys harder and more painful.  I saw grown men digging through dumps to find food.  Their feet were lacerated because they didn’t own shoes.  Women, children, and men walked through open sewage on the streets without shoes.  Inevitably, this leads to disease. 

In fact, in Ethiopia, approximately 1 million people suffer from podoconiosis.  Podoconiosis is a debilitating disease caused from silica and aluminosilicates in the soil embedding in the soles of the foot.  Podo affects the lower legs and feet with pain, sores, swelling, growth, and cracking; and it is 100% preventable.  It can be remedied by a pair of shoes. 

People in poverty-stricken countries walk miles and miles a day.  Lack of clean water, no infrastructure, not having money for cars, no form of public transportation, and a shortage of nearby stores to purchase food means people must walk.  People need shoes for the simplest of activities, but they go without.  ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES offers us an opportunity to raise awareness and create change for people in need. 

Ethiopia and Tanzania are not the only countries that suffer with a lack of shoes.  It’s just I have personally seen the needs here.  Poverty is personal to me.  My youngest brother was born in Ethiopia.  Every time I look at him, I remember what I saw.  I know if he had grown up there, he would not have shoes, clean water, food, or be able to go to school.  Mezekir is the reason I am committed to do my part to create change.  This is why I am asking Small Town School to join in on ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES.  Please, consider my request.

Barefooted a Reason and Proud of It,
Hunter Knight

My Reason To Go Barefoot

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Well Done, Kathy, Well Done!

I’d planned 10 days of blogging on ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES; however, my Aunt Kathy died today.  If I recall, Kathy is actually my second cousin, maybe my third; I don’t really know.  It’s always been wrapped in a shroud of unimportance because she was ‘my aunt’…  always is my aunt.  Her battle with uterine papillary carcinoma ended as abruptly and as unexpectedly as it arrived.  Like a thief on a midnight binge, cancer pried open the door of her life, sneaked in, poked around for what it found valuable, and snatched her health.  No alarm sounded until it was far too late.

Kathy epitomized life.  Her tenacity, her strength, her charisma drew others into her wanton web of friendship. My first memories of her seeping into my life, really seeping in, were in junior high.  You remember that time of life, when adults are not chic?  When in our youth we label authority as squelchers and duds?  At just that time, Kathy jumped into my world feet first. 

Kathy taught sex education at my local junior high.  She was edgy.  Not at all flat or bland, dry or stale.  Nor was she crass.  Just edgy. Between her job and her personality, she was primed to impact me and the other youth she touched.  Her presence was not an after thought.  She anticipated this role like a general planning for war.  She plotted. Then, she struck for eternal good.

In junior high, Kathy made my transition into a new school easier.  She paved a path of familiarity and friends.  She reached out.  She reached in.  She found time, and she made time to make my days in that school, an unknown land of strangers, bearable, tolerable, and finally enjoyable. 

During high school, my path diverged toward many a slippery slope.  Kathy saw, from personal experience, the handwriting on the wall.  Not a move I made, that endangered my future, was left unchecked.  Instead, when my pawn moved into a position of compromise, she readied her knight, her queen, and her king to combat my stupidity.  And her swift approach worked.  Too many times to count, enveloped in love, Kathy would bypass my parents, come straight to the source, and remind me of the purpose of my life.  Please, do not hear me say this meant I always chose her wise counsel; but I do mean to say, Kathy’s tough love shaped my future.

Accepting… that characterized Kathy as I single parented through college. My Aunt Kathy’s consistent love blended with reproof spurred me toward grace and kindness.  Kathy was one of the first examples of Ephesians 4:15’s idea of speaking the truth in love.  Kathy did not shroud truth to make it palatable.  She didn’t wrap it in the shinny wrapper of judgement that we like to call righteousness.  Truth was simply truth.  Love delivered truth.  Kathy carried the torch of both.  Hunter and I knew that outside our nuclear family, Kathy was for us. 

Like a piton for rock climbing, Kathy’s advice on marriage and family wedged itself into my heart.  As we celebrated our marriage, Kathy charged Josh and me, “Whatever you do in marriage and raising a family, remember these things:  Love God and keep Him central.  Enjoy one another.  Always find time and money for vacations.  Play hard.  Your kids won’t remember all the work you put into the perfection of life.  They will remember the time you spend playing with them.  As much as we played, I still wish we had played more.”  It’s funny, I don’t remember much of the advice offered up by well-wishers.  I do remember my Aunt Kathy’s advice like it was yesterday (maybe because, even as an aunt, she and Tony introduced us to frolic and diversion). We’ve lived by it, too.  Thus far, she’s been right.

I spent last night recalling the progression of that stealthful attack.  The sneak approach.  That lurking in the darkness undetected and then cancer’s raid on Kathy, her family, and her friends.  I’ve recalled the fear prior to the diagnosis, the moment we were told the who and what, the surgeries, the chemo, the continued brutal torture by the disease, and the ups and downs, the love of her family, the support of her friends and church, the wonder, the hope, more surgeries, the pain, the medications and trials, and all along more HOPE.  I don’t think I’m alone when I say I never REALLY expected this day to come.

I suppose for me this is still too surreal to process fully.  At intervals, pain harrows my heart and mind, then disbelief tells me not to believe that Kathy’s time on Earth ended.  I cannot say the fight is over.  She wouldn’t say that.  It is not.  Kathy knew the real battle.  She fought the battle well…  glory for the Almighty, a life given to Him, hope in what is to come, taking and living each moment, loving deep and rich and fully, not giving in to what is easy but persevering, and in all things, all things, pointing to the Father.  I miss Kathy already; and I think, even today, in her death, Kathy has done it again.  She made me stop and think, evaluate life and what is important, and find myself on my knees at the cross depending on Him.Well done, Kathy, well done.  I love you.

Friday, March 25, 2011


ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES hits a high note in my books.  Why?  Simple, free, and effective awareness for those in need can’t be beat.  To make it even easier for you to get involved, just stay tuned in for the next 10 days.  Hopefully, you will be inspired to adapt an idea for your own ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES.


1.  Host a playgroup at a local park.  Ask all the participants to come barefoot.
2.      2.  Meet a group of friends at a local cafĂ©.  Raise a row as you enjoy your favorite joe or grub without           your shoes.
3.      3.  Run all of your errands unencumbered by the restraint of traditional footwear (don’t forget to leave a pair in the car).
4.     4.  Shoes, shoes everywhere and not a pair to wear?  Give away your extra, unnecessary shoes, which are in good shape, to a local shelter.
5.     5.  Research ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES with your kids.  Explain to them the significance of not owning any shoes and how this affects millions of children and women around the world.  Don’t forget to share a bit about different languishing countries.  Remember our kids think all streets are paved, all cities have sidewalks, and that sewage is contained in toilets and pipes.
6.     6.  Valet shoes.  Approach a local business.  Ask them if you can offer a free valet of shoes for their customers when they arrive.  Track shoes with a simple number system.  Assign and give each pair and owner a number when their shoes are dropped.  Return them accordingly.
7.     7.  Create a contest amongst your friends and family.  Offer an award for the person who raises the most awareness, affects the most publicity, or gets the most creative.
8.     8.  Put up flyers, handout stickers, chalk the sidewalks for ODWS, and post ODWS to social media from now until April 5th.  If you need any, email me.  I will send a download to you.
9.    9.   Get permission to attend school without shoes (or for your children to). 
10 10. Ask your sports team to practice barefooted on April 5th.

I’d love to hear your plans (unless you want to keep them secret and wait for your big reveal)!  Inspire each other.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Barefoot by Choice BUT for a Cause

World Water Day 2011 just passed.  On March 22, we recognized and spread awareness for millions, who do not have access to clean water.  April 5, 2011, TOMS Shoes will host ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES.   I’m joining them.  It seems fitting to me to note that the millions of women and children walking miles to collect water usually do so without shoes.  With bare feet, they plod miles for water, medical help, and those fortunate enough, to school.  Walking barefoot not only impedes the rate of travel, but in countries like Ethiopia, shoes prevent podoconiosis, a disease easily preventable but that will leave populations lame if left untreated; and it protects from glass, metals, and the open sewage on the streets.

In November, I was blessed for a quick return trip to Ethiopia.  As I shared in an earlier post (which you can read HERE), we met shoeless women, children, and disabled on Entoto Mountain climbing down toward town to vend their collected wares.  We also visited Korah where we saw thousands scavenging through trash, which was full of needles, shards, and metals, either barefooted or in foot ware so dilapidated they should not be called shoes.   Many may consider shoes a luxury; but in these types of environments, shoes offer protection and prevent disease and injury. 

ONE DAY WITHOUT SHOES is an effort to raise awareness for those, who go without shoes.  Joining in is easy, fun, and cost free!   Tomorrow, I will blog on ways to raise awareness and be creative.   You’ll be so excited you’ll demand to join the fun…especially when you know I’m giving away a pair of TOMS (winner’s choice) to the person, who raises the most awareness and is most creative in their approach.  Start planning!  Create your POA.  Take photos, blog, and document your ONE DAY and your prep.

Happy Barefoot to you!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Our family decided to spend World Water Day, March 22, without “running water” in the house.  Our day began by brushing teeth and making coffee with water from the spigot carried in by the bucket full.   Although my coffee had a mustier taste than I prefer, I secretly thought to myself, “How fun!  A day without indoor water, what an idea, Lori Knight.”  Little did I know of the inconveniences this idea would provide and what a poor reflection of the reality of being without clean, running water it actually portrayed.

Breakfast went without a hitch.  One of our outdoor spigots sits right outside our garage, perpendicular and within steps of the kitchen.   The kids thrilled as they ran outside and filled their cups with our clean (although unfiltered) water.  Upon finishing their cereal and fage, the kids raced to rinse their few dishes outdoors and washed them in bins, which initially supplied excitement and fun. 

No one complained about limited flushing of the toilets or filling the back of the commode with a bucket of drawn water.  No one but me!  Then back outdoors to wash the hands. 

The middle children, Ann and Preston, enjoyed a relay comprised of a bin holding 3-5 gallons of water.  They dragged the bin up and down the driveway to get a glimpse of what children their age endure daily.  They held up for about 20 minutes.  Many children and women spend their entire day transporting water.  The problem was our relay was just that, a game. 

 A family of 6 (with a toddler) means we do about 4-5 loads of laundry a day.  World Water Day should be no different.  Right?  We set up a series of bins.  Suds bin.  Rinse bin.  Re-rinse bin.   A bleaching bin.  Too much fun…until the new wears off, kids wring soap in one another’s eyes, and tears ensue!  The children enjoyed the fledgling stages of the wash.  After the third load, the children left me to my own demise to finish the clothes.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Even with the spigot within reach, the time doing laundry proved disproportionate to a machine and running water.  Plus, there’s no multi-tasking.  Just washing.  The bleach water aggressed my skin.  My hands dried.  They are cracking.  I cannot imagine doing this day in and day out.  Still though, there’s no comparison when I consider most women walk miles to have enough water to fill one basin for extravagance of washing.  They lug it home only to repeat.  Ground Hog Day becomes reality.

The day continued:  lunch and water to drink, dishes, water to drink, pottying, washing hands, washing Mez after lunch, diaper changes, hand washing, cardio, more water to drink, lift weights, and water to drink.  Oh, and sweat.  Who thought of that?  Now, washing up post-exercise in pre-summer, chilly water took my breath.  I decided to defer the real shower to March 23.   Dinner prep and cleanup was more arduous.  It demanded multiple trips outside.  We needed water for pasta, washing veggies, cleaning up from shrimp, and chicken, hand washing, washing pots and pans, plates and flatware.  Prep.  Wash.  Cook.  Wash.  Eat. Wash. 

Our World Water Day concluded with baths.  The kids were troopers, except for Mez.  (Cold water is not him style.)  Each child opted for a different style.  One washed only the necessary spots.  One relished the novelty of cold water while almost naked in the back yard under the stars.  One bathed in a swimsuit, washing each part systematically with just the needed amount of water (conserving both the water and the warmth of the body).  Together, we thanked God for the luxury of water and health that He has so generously given our family.  We asked for His provision for those in need of clean water.  We remembered He is the living water that quenches the deepest ‘sine qua non’ of life.  We committed to using the resources He’s entrusted us for His glory and good, changing lives in His name.

I thought, in the end, this was just an idea.  Maybe good.  Maybe fun.  But none of this compares to reality.  Millions around the world suffer without clean, running water.  Wells built break.  People struggle to survive.  Water abounds but not to the impoverished.  My idea changed only a day in our home and to the degree we allowed it because at any moment I could abandon all and return to the luxury of the water inside my home (not to mention the water I used was clean and within steps of our backdoor).   My idea left me deflated except for a hope that yesterday sparked an awareness in each of my children to look past themselves and become aware of the suffering of others.  We shall see…