This morning my pal Mummy Barrow shared a photograph of her cold feet out walking her dog without shoes on and tagged it #BarefootCoatless. I was interested to know why so I went to her blog and read todays post. Mummy Barrow went to Jordan recently with World Vision to see the refugee camps and it is a follow up to this, saying that refugees fled their homes in fear. The took what they could grab, and for most of them planning ahead to colder months was unlikely to have crossed their minds. A bomb lands nearby your house, you don’t plan and pack a suitcase, you’d grab the children and leg it in whatever you were wearing wouldn’t you?
I was going into town anyway so I decided to put my foot in it and stand up for what I believe in. Today I went to town, via bus, with naked feet and not wearing a coat. I made a sign on paper and pinned it on to myself.
I could feel people glaring at me, laughing, talking about me. I just kept going. I did everything I’d usually do, but shivering. Had lunch, went to meet friends, and went in about 5 shops.
When I was eating lunch (from the cheapest cafe I always go to on a Wednesday) I ate my 99pence bacon and cheese panini outside on a bench on one of the busiest pedestrian streets. I heard a bunch of students saying “gosh look at her? She must be freezing!” “She doesn’t look homeless, why has she gone barefoot? Is she nuts?” They read the note pinned to my back “fair play, she’s got bigger balls than me that woman has.” They keep walking and I smile back at the kindest smile one of them gave me.
Some shop staff seemed less than impressed, and rather confused but I just carried on. I was expecting to get told to put shoes on, so I had my shoes in a reusable shopping bag, but no one asked me to cover up my toes.
I covered around 3km without shoes today according to my Fitbit, and some surfaces are harder than others to walk on. Old tarmac is hellish with all the loose stones on the surface, gravel… just don’t walk on gravel ever. The pavements in Gloucester are mainly tiled, and these are nicer to walk on, except near the trees. Soft looking bits of fluff were on the ground under big trees, I assume it was crushed and weathered conker shells. Man those things hurt!
I had a choice though, I could just shove my shoes and coat back on, go home and be just fine. Refugees don’t have a choice. This is not about politics, it’s about freezing cold, hungry and frightened children (and adults).
What is World Vision all about? And why did this Barefoot thing happen today?
Barefoot and Coatless
Every year winter hits especially hard for the millions of Syrian refugees living in makeshift shelters and camps in the Middle East, but this year the degrading situation and increasing numbers of refugees have aggravated an already difficult situation. Preparations have been in full swing for the past few months in order to protect the most vulnerable families from a possible repeat of last year’s winter storms. Last year’s first heavy snow in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley caused collapsed tents in the informal tented settlements and even several deaths due to the cold temperatures. As early as November, refugee children in Serbia were experiencing severe frostbite and unable to walk any further.
Moved by the severe need we’re witnessing on the ground; World Vision UK is asking our supporters to take action ahead of the 5 year Syrian anniversary (15 March 2016). We’re asking people to go without their coat for one day, to fundraise for a Syrian child to receive one. On 10 February, go without your coat, spend the day in flip flops, take a walk with colleagues at lunch time or arrange a winter warmer with friends. Just £14 can buy a winter coat for one of the two million refugee children living in tents and poor housing to survive the cold conditions and £51 can provide a winter care kit to a refugee child including shoes, socks and winter coat.
For more information and updates from the campaign, please visit www.worldvision.org.uk/barefootcoatless.
The Syria Crisis, which has claimed the lives of 4.4million people, will enter its sixth year in mid-March. World Vision is supporting refugees inside the country, and those who have fled to neighbouring countries including Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey – and has now extended its work in Europe.
To mark the five-year milestone since the start of the Syria Crisis anniversary, World Vision UK has launched the Barefoot and Coatless Campaign. On Wednesday 10 February, the children’s charity is asking people to go without their coat or spend the day in flip flops for one day to fundraise for a Syrian child to receive one.
About World Vision
World Vision worldvision.org.uk, a Christian organisation, is the world’s largest international children’s charity. World Vision teams are working in the world’s hardest places, with continued presence in almost 100 countries. The world is now witnessing the largest refugee crisis since records began, and the Syrian crisis is the largest single source of refugee and displaced people in the world. Million of families have been disrupted. Two out of every five Syrian refugees are children under the age of 11, few of whom will ever have gone to school.
World Vision has been responding to the crisis since 2011 and is currently helping children and families on the ground in Serbia, Lebanon, and Jordan, as well as Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. However, we desperately need the public’s help to do so as winter looms and the crisis moves towards its five-year anniversary.