What IS it with the SHOES?

29 Jan

What is it with the shoes-for-Haiti thing? I mean, seriously. Besides these idiots, is there anyone not reading Alanna and Saundra? Apparently the word’s not getting out.

In case the actual logic of why sending shoes to Haiti (or anywhere) is a bad idea doesn’t appeal to you, how about this: They already have shoes in Haiti.

I’ve lost track of the number of street sellers I’ve seen in the past two days with rows and rows of brand-spanking-new Nike, Adidas and Converse sneakers for sale along the streets of Port au Prince. True, they might be fake. But they’re still shoes.

Heck, even some random woman out the car window has a tub full of shoes on her head.

Enough with the shoes already…

* * *

UPDATE: 11 March, 2010

Apparently selling tubs full of new shoes is one of the micro-enterprises of choice among little old ladies in Port-au-Prince.

No apparent shortage of shoes in Haiti...

A new pair can cost as little as US $2.00.

When you donate $5.00 for one pair of shoes you’re paying for a lot of, you know… overhead.

And when you support giving shoes away, you help to put those little old ladies out of work…

So maybe we could stop sending shoes to Haiti?

21 Responses to “What IS it with the SHOES?”

  1. Rachel 30 January, 2010 at 2:22 am #

    Hey, I have a question. A friend of mine from the States posted (on Facebook) that he was collecting crutches to be donated to Haiti and anyone with extra crutches should bring them to him.

    Having read so many posts from you and your blogger colleagues, I wrote to him and I asked what organization he was doing this through, adding that, in general, with the ports so clogged (this was a week ago) it seems to be very difficult for items to get in, much less to there correct destination… etc etc… lessons learned from tsunami… etc… but that OBVIOUSLY continued fiscal support to strong organizations is crucial…

    He wrote me back that he (his Pittsburgh CBO for the Arts) was approached by Hôpital Albert Schweitzer and asked to be a collection point for crutches in Pittsburgh. So that shut me up. Because isn’t that a respected hospital with people who probably know much more about needs than, say, me?

    But STILL — even if they are just collecting crutches now to ship later, when things calm down (I’m not sure if this is the case or not) — it seems to me crutches are something that could be so easily locally made — thus adding even a small bit to local economy, employing local persons, cutting down on shipping costs… or not?

    • J. 31 January, 2010 at 5:58 am #

      Hey Rachel, you raise one of the classic GIK (gift-in-kind) dilemmas. The dilemma of “yes, but what about…?”🙂

      There is clearly a range of opinion on this topic. I gravitate towards the “don’t do it” end. I’m sure Hôpital Albert Schweitzer will put donated crutches to good use (guessing there’s not a huge black market for this kind of thing Haiti – though I could be wrong). No matter what you want to donate to for the poor in a third-world country, you can find someone who will take… but that still doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

      • Rachel 31 January, 2010 at 10:18 am #

        Thanks!🙂

  2. Michael 30 January, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    Have you tweeted to Jessica Simpson yet? Perhaps you can stop the madness by reaching out using a medium she responds to.

    • J. 31 January, 2010 at 5:14 am #

      Oh crap! I totally forgot to tweet Jessica… Let me get on that…

  3. Kathryn 30 January, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

    I’m sure this is just a misunderstanding. I’m sure that the sentence absent from their mission statement, the one about contacting Haitian officials, was left out by mistake.

    http://www.esbctwinfalls.com/clientimages/24453/pdffiles/haiti/nlcrhaitianorphanrescuemission.pdf

    • J. 31 January, 2010 at 5:29 am #

      For Heaven’s sake, where do you find this stuff?

      Yes, I’m sure that New Life Children’s Refuge is staffed by only the most well-trained and experienced child-wellbeing and child-protection specialists, that they have deep, long-established local networks (including with Haitian officials), that the good pastor “Clint” of Idaho and all of his staff are fully fluent in the language and culture of both Haiti and DR, that the conveniently round figure of 300% increase in the number of orphans in Haiti as a result of the quake was arrived at on the basis of NCLR’s own rigorous assessment (and they have actual population data to back it up if asked), and that they’ll carefully follow all official procedures as they remove all those children from their home country.

      Yes, either they were just being considerate by not burdening you, gentle reader, with all of that uninteresting and – frankly – superflous information…. or it really reads like they’re taking advantage of the earthquake to traffic a bunch of kids out of Haiti…

  4. Johanna 31 January, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Haiti is becoming a BIG ol’ mess. I wonder if there’s a way to stop people from going there. I mean, just this morning I read that 10 Americans have been stopped because they were trying to bring Haitian “orphans” to the DR because god called them to do so. Ouch. And then all the journalists there not adding anything original to the reporting and all small NGOs… it’s becoming rwanda Part deux. Ridiculous. I’m thinking of you, doing some real good things, there. Keep on posting from there. You’re elevating my anger level, but it feels good!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. In go the clowns « Aid Thoughts - 9 February, 2010

    […] seen some bloggers upset about the mass donation of used shoes to the Haitian crisis. That was only the beginning. Remember Clowns Without Borders? […]

  2. Good Intentions Are Not Enough » Blog Archive » Enough with the shoe donations - 27 June, 2010

    […] What IS it with the SHOES? – Tales from the Hood […]

  3. Good Intentions Are Not Enough » Blog Archive » The problem with Stop and Droppers - 27 June, 2010

    […] What IS it with the SHOES? – From Tales from the Hood who is on the ground in Haiti […]

  4. Good Intentions Are Not Enough » Blog Archive » Interesting articles, posts, and guidelines from late Jan and early Feb 2010 - 27 June, 2010

    […] What IS it with the SHOES – Tales from the Hood and We’re shocked to discover that Jessica Simpson doesn’t read our blog – AidWatch – both discuss the needless donation of shoes to Haiti, a problem following the tsunami as well. […]

  5. Good Intentions Are Not Enough » Blog Archive » 6 questions you should ask before donating goods overseas - 28 June, 2010

    […] What IS it with the SHOES? – From Tales from the Hood who is on the ground in Haiti […]

  6. Enough with the shoe donations | Good Intentions Are Not Enough Enough with the shoe donations | An honest conversation about the impact of aid - 26 September, 2010

    […] What IS it with the SHOES? – Tales from the Hood […]

  7. 6 questions you should ask before donating goods overseas | Good Intentions Are Not Enough 6 questions you should ask before donating goods overseas | An honest conversation about the impact of aid - 26 September, 2010

    […] What IS it with the SHOES? – From Tales from the Hood who is on the ground in Haiti […]

  8. The problem with Stop and Droppers | Good Intentions Are Not Enough The problem with Stop and Droppers | An honest conversation about the impact of aid - 26 September, 2010

    […] What IS it with the SHOES? – From Tales from the Hood who is on the ground in Haiti […]

  9. TOMS Shoes: Good Marketing – Bad Aid | Good Intentions Are Not Enough TOMS Shoes: Good Marketing – Bad Aid | An honest conversation about the impact of aid - 25 October, 2010

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  10. DIY follow-up, part 3 of 5: Improving the development industry. (Or: Don’t the professionals screw things up too?) « Find What Works - 31 October, 2010

    […] this seems to happen a lot with shoes — see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for more commentary. What should be sent and what shouldn’t? Here’s a useful flow […]

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  12. Haiti revisited « Tales From the Hood - 21 May, 2011

    […] WTF IS it with the SHOES? – I’ve long ago resigned myself to being surrounded by the matching “disaster response” T-shirt groups coming to Haiti to build churches and hug orphans as I board the plane in Miami. But on this trip (in addition to the matching T-shirts), I was surrounded by a gaggle of trendily matching TOMS Shoes peeps. They all seemed to have the same hoodies, scarves, shoes (duh). One guy even had a shirt which read something like, “TOMS Shoes: Haiti Shoe Drop.” a) WTF? b) I totally want one of those shirts. […]

  13. Unintended consequences – – how much harm can doing good cause? « Nonprofit update - 30 December, 2011

    […] Second, sending shoes to Haiti can destroy the microenterprises some people have created of selling shoes – What IS it with the SHOES?  […]

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