Huong Hoa, Quang Tri (8 December 2014)
Hundreds of primary students in Huong Linh Commune, one of the poorest communes of the mountainous district of Huong Hoa, were provided with brand new canvas TOMS shoes from Project RENEW and its partner, the Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI). The shoes, distributed to the children in a ceremony held today, are part of TOMS “One for One” international initiative that has given over 35 million pairs of new shoes to children in need around the world.
TOMS’s Account Specialist Jamie Collier, who flew over ten thousand miles from Los Angeles to Quang Tri Province, joined with RENEW staff and local teachers in giving new high quality TOMS shoes to over 350 ethnic minority students.
The children, all ages 6 to 10, are students of Huong Linh Primary School, which is located in an isolated area of the district that is not easily accessible. Families, who recently resettled in the area for the Rao Quan Hydraulic Power Plant to be built, are so poor that many of their children have never had a real pair of shoes until today. Some of them even go barefoot which results in injuries or hygienic problems. Today they look at their new TOMS shoes as a precious gift that will keep their feet warm as winter has already come to their village.
Apart from new shoes, Project RENEW provided Mine Risk Education-themed comic books, leaflets and posters to these children, helping raise their awareness of how to be safe from the dangers of unexploded ordnance, which pose a lingering threat to the people of Quang Tri Province even though the war ended nearly 40 years ago. A recent survey of Project RENEW showed that about 31% of more than 8,000 UXO casualties in Quang Tri since 1975 are children.
“TOMS was founded in 2006 and since then we have distributed shoes to children in need in over 70 countries,” said Jamie Collier. “We are proud of our partnership with Project RENEW to help make Quang Tri Province safe from UXO.”
As Ms. Nguyen Minh Chau, deputy principal of Huong Linh Primary School put it: “While the shoes protect their feet and give them self-confidence to study and prosper, MRE messages help them know how to be safe from UXOs.” “We thank Project RENEW and TOMS for equipping our students with safety awareness, and giving them safe footsteps toward a brighter tomorrow.”
The shoe giving ceremony held at Huong Linh Primary School is an indication of the ongoing partnership between Project RENEW and TOMS through HDI, which has distributed over 90,000 pairs of shoes coupled with UXO safety messages to over 245 schools in Quang Tri Province since 2013.
Project RENEW was established in 2001 as a joint effort between the government of Quang Tri Province and interested INGOs to “restore the environment and neutralize the effects of the war”. RENEW is the only comprehensive mine action organization in Vietnam that integrates survey and clearance, risk education, and victim assistance into a coordinated program of action