Feed the Children’s ragtag caravan wound its way from Guatemala City (six hours north) up to the Ixil Triangle. Navigating the lumpen, curvy roads the convoy appeared to have the agility of a python stuffing itself into a teacup, but, Altagracia Hernandez, head of FTC Guatemala, had honed the logistics for the massive TOMS shoe delivery; her team would be exceptionally keen for this grand finale. It would not be sleek – by any stretch – but it would end up being spectacular for its efficiency.
The TOMS project had been a big operation from the on-set and when all was done, more than a thousand people would have added value to the gifts sent by the shoemaker, whose charitable promise is: “One for One.”
(TOMS donates one pair of shoes for each pair they sell.)
The city team picked up a posse along the way. FTC’s Central American head, Riccardo Candray came up from San Salvador accompanied by his son, Joaquin. They arrived with a giant SUV and worked for several days ahead of scheduled meetings in the Capital. The mayor of Palencia, who had already distinguished himself by providing storage space and volunteers to pack the majority of the shoes, went so far as to loan his wife, Zaida, a driver and a flatbed truck for this. FIECA, a literacy promoting NGO in Solola kindly sent their colleague, Rocanna and 4×4 pickup. At nights, the motley fleet and exposed cargo had to be stowed; and, sometimes that meant that the cloth shoes had to loaded, unloaded and boxes re-sorted for their diverse destinations. Because it is now rainy season, this crew did it “…backwards in heels..” through the mud.
TOMS has a very specific methodology that their partners had to agree to before they shipped the shoes. It required that a data base be created and that each teacher would be responsible for counting and distributing their shoes. In order to do this, by the book, in the District of Quiche, FTC enrolled Don Adrian, a senior administrator from the Ministry of Education to help. Don Adrian would show up “randomly” standing on this corner then that or lurking in an alley. He had done wonders – handling the coordinating for this mission – not only the scheduling the teachers but scouting hotels, parking lots and where to eat. Don Adrian had arranged central meeting places as well as he could. Sometimes there was enough room for all the teachers to come in and collect their allotment and sometimes the line ran out the door for hours.
For the Guatemala team, the most satisfying day must have been the last. Ms. Hernandez had given a map-talk the evening before laying out the strategy for finishing the ultimate delivery and getting the crew back home. As they pulled out on the final leg, the elfin Don Adrian appeared to be doing a victory jig at a gas station but he was really there to point the way out of town. All that morning, the team labored, as usual, moving, counting and re-adjusting . And, as planned, by mid-day, the whole container-load had been distributed. The journey had been tough – but all the children in FTC”s Guatemala territories had received their “One for One” black espadrilles from TOMS. “