Thursday, April 16, 2009

Getting Barefoot at the Beach this Weekend

So there's this little guy, Bilaal Bajan, looks like he's about twelve years old, but he's got his own web site, he's written a book, and he's running a Barefoot Challenge. Bilaal is urging you and me and everyone we know to spend at least one hour barefoot on any day during International Volunteer Week, which takes place starting this Sunday, April 19th through Saturday, April 25th, 2009. To celebrate the occasion, Bilaal is spearheading his own initiative in which he will live life without shoes for the entire week. As they say, “You never really know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes,” but Bilaal is taking it one step further: he’s going barefoot! Now, I know I make up stories for London and Maddie, that go something like, "when I was your age, I used to walk seven miles each way to school, barefoot, with my cello on my back." The girls laugh, but they don't (and shouldn't) believe me. Bilaal, however, is asking his fellow students, teachers and the general public to go barefoot for the week, or at least as long as they can, to better understand the struggles faced by underprivileged children in the developing world – many of whom cannot afford shoes, let alone attend school or even know when or where they will get their next meal.

Rex and I always try to show London and Maddie how lucky they are to live in the United States, it the Roxiticus Valley, where even when there's an economic downturn, things never get that bad. Children in some countries walk miles in their bare feet every day to fetch water, work on farm lands, go to school, or perform other chores. For many of them, the first priority is taking care of their families.

Way back before Rex and I had our own investment banking firm, I was known around The Firm as the girl who never wore her shoes. I just hated my high heels, so I would take them off every chance I got. Now that I'm back on Wall Street, it seems like a great opportunity to spend a half day or even a full day barefoot at work, while London and Maddie try to get away with no shoes at school.

The initiative is gaining momentum in countries as far away as Australia, Afghanistan, Switzerland, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania and Thailand. If you had unlimited resources in the future, what would you do to benefit others? What are you prepared to do to make the world a better place?

Going barefoot from April 19 to 25 will give us all the time to reflect and raise awareness about the injustices facing children in other parts of the world. When anyone asks you why you aren't wearing shoes, just tell them it's because too many children around the world don’t have any shoes to wear either.

Let's go barefoot together to change the world in a positive way – one step at a time.