On April 10, 2012 Aurora University’s campus held “A Day Without Shoes,” to raise awareness about global poverty in the community.
The day “kicked off” with a group photo at 9:45 a.m., and ended with a discussion about the two solutions used to end global poverty, also known as band aid solutions vs. sustainable solutions.
The organizers wanted to give students an experimental activity that would give them “a taste of what is like to be uncomfortable,” said Kris Johnson.
It just so happened to be a particularly chilly spring day, which only furthered the day’s message more. “The point is for them to experience that discomfort,” said Johnson.
Professor Jonathan Dean recalled walking across the quad that day: “My feet were tired, sore and cold, just going about my daily routine was really difficult.” For Dean, a day without shoes forced him to think differently about someone else’s reality.
However, the people who live this reality are not as far away as one may think. In fact, it occurs right here in AU’s backyard.
Local Children Need Shoes Too.
AU’s Delta Mu Delta chapter formed a partnership with ADWS organizers after East Aurora School District 131 informed the group about the need of shoes for children attending Bardwell and Brady elementary schools.
“We were originally going to donate books,” said senior Krystyna Kielb. The group scrapped their original plans to help provide shoes to the children in need at Barwell and Brady elementary schools. They began using sidewalk marketing strategies on campus in the weeks prior to the event to raise awareness and encourage participation.
Over 80 percent of the children attending the elementary schools are from low-income households, and 90 percent of these children are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program.
The university also held a shoe drive in conjunction with ADWS and ended up receiving 1,485 donations. The proceeds will be distributed between Hessed House, Soles 4 Souls, and Crossover Running, who is starting a fitness program at Hessed House.
People need to remember that charitable actions are the beginning of the process and not the solution to poverty.
“But, if you are bleeding you need a band aid”
– Professor Jonathan Dean
As a campus community we have it in our power to provide band aids solutions, and at the same time raise our own awareness. The university’s shoe drive ended up donating 1,485 pairs of shoes to local and international organizations.
“Raising awareness can lead to all kinds of things that tackle the issues,” said Dean, adding that “there is also a need to do something about the systemic problems.”
Band aids can’t heal a wound, and donations won’t fix the problem.
Disparity between those with income and those who struggle every day, and people with income rarely think about these people, said Julia Jones, who works for Church World Service. “The effort is important because it encourages us to mindful of people who struggle every day to have their basic needs met,” said Jones, before speaking at ADWS dinner.
But frequently people never go beyond that first step, “the next step would be continued learning,” said Jones. People have to continue educating themselves on the way in which their way of living impact farmers around the world. The U.S. government’s policies regarding farm subsidies have a devastating impact on farmers around the world, which in turn creates hunger, poverty, and shoelessness.
Jones’ discussion educated students on the roots of poverty, which are directly linked to foreign debt, violence and militarism, farm subsidies, AIDS and gender. “Education always has to come with a sustainable solution,” said Jones, who encouraged AU students to look deeper before supporting a solution to global poverty. “As you respond ask: is this a band aid solution or a sustainable one?” Keep in mind: band aid solutions do not get to the root of the problem.