This August, the Roma Boots team had the privilege to return to one of our favorite places; Guatemala. When Roma was just getting started in 2010, Guatemala was the first country we visited for a boot drop outside Romanian. And, heading back brought back all the memories of the breathtaking landscapes and charming people.
Even better, this time our group had some first timers. Bringing our boots to kids in need is even more rewarding when you get to share with others who believe in your mission so strongly that they come along for the tiring, dirty, tough work. Because, they share in the knowledge that our boots are making a difference in the lives of these children and their families.
So, in addition to our Roma team, we were joined by Megan and Brad Bauchamp, owners of the Houston-based Magpies stores. They were one of our first shop orders which really paved the way for a successful year. Having them with us was totally a full circle moment. Also along for the adventure was Tina Citoiu who was moved by our story on ProTV and wanted to see for herself. And, 11 year old Gabe and his mother Melissa. As a voice actor in Hollywood, Gabe and his mom have seen all kinds of things, but this was his first time out of the country, and he brought his charm and youthful spirit to our trip.
Our base camp was in Guatemala City, but as the sun came up we traveled about an hour to the village of Cruz Blanca. The poor economic conditions in the area mean that most children there go without protective footwear, despite the risk of contracting hookworm and exposure to the rough materials found in volcanic ash.
When we got to the village, it was postcard perfect day. The sun was shining, and the children knew we were coming. Hundreds of curious, eager faces greeted us with their smiles. Some broad, some shy, and all of them adorable. We were told that some of them had already been waiting hours. As we lined up the boots and supplies, they lined up according to size. There were big sisters and little brothers, twins, mothers with their children, others that were bigger and came by themselves.
As we worked to get set up, no one worked harder than Gabe. Stacking the boots, fitting the children; all the while using funny voices and expressions to entertain the kids. That spirit was contagious, and served us all a great reminder of how simple acts of kindness can make an impact.
After awhile, the boots had all been passed out, and the families started to head back to their homes. Then suddenly, a storm blew in. Torrential rains came in sheets off the rooftops, the streets filled with mud. It was hard to believe that we’d been standing in perfect sunlight just moments before. Then we heard it. Not the thunder, or the sound of raindrops crashing into everything with such force, but the laughter. It was the laughter of children who could play in the rain, rather than slog through it. Children whose feet were protected and dry enjoying the puddles and raindrops.
When others ask to join our boot drops we share with them our desire to be instruments of hope for these children. That every time a child in need puts on a pair of Roma Boots they feel the love we have in our hearts for them. Hearing that laughter in the rain, we all felt their love in our hearts too.