U.S. Partners with Private Firm to Donate Shoes to Talibés

Talibés after receiving their shoes
US Ambassador Lewis Lukens with officials from the Government of Senegal, USAID, and the Basic Education project with koranic students among more than 60,000 who received shoes donated by the TOMS shoes, a philanthropic American footwear company, at daara
Zack Taylor/USAID Senegal
More than 60,000 pairs of shoes to be provided

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Grand Mbao, July 16, 2013 – In the spirit of giving associated with the holy month of Ramadan, a U.S. based shoemaker has teamed with a project of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide more than 60,000 pairs of shoes to students in daaras across four regions of Senegal.

The donation of the canvas footwear comes from TOMS Shoes, a philanthropic firm that donates a second pair of shoes for each one it sells.   Throughout the summer, the shoes will be distributed in the regions of Dakar, Matam, Saint Louis and Louga to children served by the USAID-funded Basic Education Project (USAID/EDB), which has successfully introduced French language instruction, math, history/geography, and life skills into more than 350 daaras across Senegal.

“This gesture will help tens of thousands of children who might not otherwise have the protection afforded by shoes against infection and injury as they go through their daily lives,” U.S. Ambassador to Senegal Lewis Lukens said at a ceremony at Daara Ibnou Taymya, Grand Mbao Dakar launching the distribution. “In addition to the health benefits, wearing a decent pair of new shoes can also provide youth with a measure of self-esteem and confidence that may have been previously lacking.”

Daara students, often sent out on the streets to beg for alms to learn humility, make up a sizeable part of Senegal’s population of street children, are often seen barefoot and consequently vulnerable to injury and infection. 

The partnership with USAID was made possible by TOMS Shoes’ internationally-recognized One for One program, which provides a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased.  Since 2006, more than 11 million pairs of shoes have been donated around the world since 2006.

Over the last four years, the USAID/EDB project has worked to improve access, quality and governance of the Senegalese middle-school education system. The program 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.

“The daaras are home to some of Senegal’s poorest children, known as Talibé,” said Guitele Nicoleau, Chief of Party for USAID/EDB. The Talibé represent approximately 25 percent of the total number of children in school, and, says Nicoleau, “By providing them with shoes, we can help preserve their health and well-being, which directly impacts their time and success in school.”

“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 that care for them,” said Sebastian Fries, Chief Giving Officer for TOMS. 

Last updated: July 10, 2014

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