Small Steps has recently partnered with the Kamloops Fire Department and…. wow, we have seen these fireman take the shoe drive to a whole new level, resulting in 7000 shoes being delivered to the dumps we have been working on in Nicaragua!
In Spring 2011 after three months in Nicaragua delivering to the dump communities of La Joya in Granada and La Chureca in Managua, we came across the Chinandega city dump. This led to us partnering with two inspirational guys, Monty and Gerry. They run Monty’s Surf Camp, which gets all its visitors doing voluntary work, be that on the dump, or in the poor rural local community.
Some of their plans for the dump were brilliant and we wanted to help support them. They wanted to build a community centre, a library and a health centre on the dump using recycled containers from aid that had been sent from Canada.
But who was sending these containers? That is when we found out about the Kamloops Fireman. The Kamloops Firefighters Operation Nicaragua are a small group of Firefighters and volunteers who have already sent seven shipping containers of humanitarian supplies, one ambulance and and nine fire trucks to struggling areas in Nicaragua and Tanzania. So we sent one of the Fire Fighters and the organiser of the group, David Sakaki, the documentary Small Steps: Nicaragua, telling the story of what what we had been trying to do in Nicaragua and what we are always trying to do with the project; encourage everyone to take their own small steps so that together we can protect and help children off rubbish dumps and into education.
David watched the film and then took some really big steps, not only is he donating a further three fire trucks, another ambulance and two more shipping containers of aid but these containers will include 7000 pairs of shoes bound for the barrios and inhabited rubbish dumps in Nicaragua.
Over 4500 of the 7000 shoes that will be shipped are a result of a small project undertaken by a new teacher Jennifer Jones, and two of the classes at Kay Bingham Elementary School in Kamloops, B.C. Canada. The original goal was for the students to collect a couple of hundred pairs of shoes over the course of two weeks to send south. That milestone was reached after just one day. The students were so energized and inspired by their project that they started to mobilize the entire city after the monumental goal of 1000 shoes was reached after just a few days. So needless to say, the Faculty, Community and Students were elated once the final pair of shoes (4502) was counted. The shoes have since been loaded into a dump truck and delivered in two forty foot shipping containers. They are currently waiting to be trucked from Kamloops, B.C. to Vancouver, B.C. They will then be placed on a cargo ship to California, then to Guatemala. From there they will be trucked through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and then to Nicaragua for final distribution.
“The most beautiful part of this story is that a simple idea can manifest itself on a global scale. Amy Hanson had a simple idea of providing a pair of shoes for a few children and this simple idea developed into the Small Steps Project. A group of Firefighters on the other side of the globe fell in love with the principles and accomplishments of the Small Steps Project and wanted to help in their efforts. Then one teacher, became one class, became one school, became one community and became part of the Firefighters project. Now, 7000 shoes are making their way south to profoundly impact the lives of many. Thank you to Jennifer Jones, the Staff and Students at Kay Bingham Elementary School, Kamloops Firefighters Operation Nicaragua , Gerry Caceres and Don Montgomery from Montys Beach Lodge and Small Steps Project- You are globally inspirational.”
So for any of you reading this and wanting to get involved, we need lots of sets of hands please contact Monty for a volunteer opportunity on this incredible giant, firefighter sized central american distribution project! This will be the biggest distribution we have ever done and by partnering with Monty’s Surf Camp we can accommodate any number of volunteers for any amount of time, willing to pull up their sleeves and get stuck in.
All the shoes that have been collected are being delivered right now! You can follow the amazing work of the Kamloops firefighters and teacher Jennifer Jones who organised the school shoe collections on their blog here http://kamloopsfirefighters.wordpress.com/