Stepping up: how our student leaders help Cambodia’s rural poor

It is easy to underestimate the power of a new pair of shoes. Since 2009, CCF has been in partnership with global company and success story TOMS, and through their Giving Program has distributed over 200,000 pairs of shoes to Cambodian children and families.

The idea behind the programme is simple – for every TOMS shoe sold, one is donated to a Giving Partner. The shoes received by CCF have been customized to meet the needs of people in Cambodia – they are comfortable, durable, and drain easily if caught in the torrential rain of the monsoon season.

The benefits of CCF’s partnership with TOMS are felt across the whole community. Distribution of the shoes is tightly integrated into our Leadership program, with our students involved in the planning and presentation of educational programmes that accompany the giving out of shoes. As well as teaching about the health benefits of footwear, our young leaders must call on their problem solving, communication and teamwork skills while the distribution takes place in rural areas around Phnom Penh – things can get a little hectic when giving out 1000 pairs of shoes per village!

Sem Sorn is employed as CCF’s Community Leadership Supervisor, and is responsible for the TOMS distribution programme. He has seen the benefits to the community firsthand. “I feel proud that I can work with TOMS on this project. A new pair of shoes may seem like a small thing, but I frequently hear from parents that their children are more comfortable attending school if they have footwear that they are proud of. Alongside the increase in healthy feet, we have also seen an increase in class attendance rates in areas where we have distributed TOMS shoes.”

Our partnership with TOMS has had an invaluable impact on the work that we do, and shoe distributions are a highlight for our students and staff. We think the Giving Programme is a great example of ethical business done right.

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