A Shoeless Day in Ecuador

Real Imprints
I Witnessed something I’ll never forget, and reaffirmed my love for my family. We flew from Quito to Cuenca EARLY in the morning (4:00 AM!!) to visit four orphanages there. Our first stop was at an orphanage which is housed in a former disco/”hourly rate” hotel. We brought with us shoes donated by friends of our daughters Eliza and Maggie (and others). We spent some time matching children to shoes, Maggie eagerly helped three or four young toddlers and girls get matched to shoes and became their beautiful American friend for a day! Meanwhile, we noticed two thirteen/fourteen year old orphan girls who were obviously best friends, who, despite our best efforts, just weren’t able to find any that would fit them. The two removed themselves from the group, and somewhat dejectedly watched from a distance as their friends continued to receive shoes and various gifts. Eliza said, “I’ll bet my shoes would fit the older one…”. She approached the girls, and asked through gesturing and broken Spanish if she would like to try on her pink and lime green Nike cross-trainers… her “lucky” shoes. The girl grinned and nodded, “yes”. Eliza tied them on her feet and told her they were hers to keep. Meanwhile, the other best friend watched, becoming even more dejected seeing her friend receive the beautiful Nikes. Heidi noticed this, and asked her if she liked the Keds she was wearing. She grinned an equally wide grin and nodded, “yes”! Heidi removed her shoes and tied them to the girl’s feet. As our van left shortly thereafter, we looked back to see the two girls carefully removing their “new” shoes and carrying them to their rooms so as to not get them dirty. Heidi and Eliza cried secretly on and off for the rest of the day, walking barefoot in Ecuador. No one noticed but me. I remember buying those two pairs of shoes for Heidi and Eliza for Christmas last year, thinking they would be the perfect gifts for my girls to open on Christmas morning… and they were not cheap. I had no way of knowing at the time that several months later, in a village high in the Ecuadorian Andes, they would teach me one of the most selfless, simple acts of kindness that I have ever witnessed. I love my family…

Story written by: Roger Merrill

This story appeared first on Real Imprints.