To walk a mile in “their shoes” would mean going barefoot.
That’s one of the reasons Campbell River’s Arelene Luduc is travelling to Africa this month in order to help the 65 children at the Agape Earth Angels Orphanage in Malawi.
“Only four children have shoes so the orphans take turns by leaving their shoes by the front door, rotating and sharing their footwear so they can go to school that day,” says Luduc, who adds that children are only able to attend the local school if they have footwear.
She already has one pair of sturdy shoes to take in her luggage. They were Morgan Hayward’s best school shoes, but he decided to donate them to the orphans who need them far more than he does.
“Morgan was sad by this particular story and couldn’t believe what he was hearing!” says Luduc. “After studying with his class about Africa he was shocked to learn about the cultural differences. He suddenly realized how lucky he was, and what a privilege it is, to be able to attend school.”
Luduc will also be taking clothing, soccer jerseys, toothbrushes, art supplies and muffin pans to make Vita Meal muffins with the children, all possible through the support of our community, she happily notes.
Vita Meal is specially formulated with 25 essential vitamins and minerals to nourish children. Luduc used the product to make muffins which she sold at the Pier Street Market and then used the profits to help the orphanage.
“It all started, after raising two children of my own I found myself clearly on a path to share my love for children,” she says. “I decided it was time to give back! This quickly led to forming a volunteer, non-profit team to support this quest.”
Luduc is travelling to the Malawi, the poorest country in Africa (located in the southeast portion of the continent), on May 25, and will be staying for more than a month.
The orphanage was started in 2002 by another Canadian, Dianne Block of Stony Plain, Alberta. She had travelled extensively and volunteered at other orphanages before opening the Agape Orphanage with just $75.
“These children have lost their parents to AIDS and some of them will suffer this same fate. In these cases, we simply want to offer the child a safe and caring environment in which to leave this world,” Block writes on the foundation’s website. “Our children, as with all children in the world, are simply amazing. They don’t really know why they ended up here, but they all know it is a better place than where they were before. Most importantly, they all feel loved, and that is why we do this.”
Leduc is hoping the people of Campbell River can assist the orphanage too through financial donations because there’s no way she can take more than 60 pairs of shoes.
“There’s only so much room in my bags!” she says with a laugh.
To learn more about the Agape Earth Angels Orphanage www.agapeorphans.com.
Contact Leduc at 250-286-3356 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org