One day, I got the following email from my my BFF, Ainul Fajri.

Dear Mirisa yang hampir ulang tahun…

Di Aceh sekarang masih hari Rabu, 19 Januari, pukul 14:59 wib. Jadi kayaknya masih ada beberapa jam menjelang the 20th. What is your plan? Are you celebrating?

For the first time in our conversation, I couldn’t reply to her directly. I took some times to think and start writing about my birthday project and never wanted to call it “a celebration”. I had been thinking about doing these entire things two weeks prior the D-Day.

Donate Two Dresses to The Princess Project

I was reading Self March 2009 magazine one day. On one of the page, it mentioned about three different things you could do if you get 15 minutes. Nonetheless, you could “Be A Fairy Godmother” if you got 4 minutes. At the time I read it, I was wondering what four minutes could bring someone to become a fairy godmother. Further, it mentioned about a website, http://princessproject.org/.

I went to the website once I arrived home and found out that The Princess Project is a tax-exempt 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that promotes self-confidence and individual beauty by providing free prom dresses and accessories to high school girls who cannot otherwise provide them. Since it began serving Bay Area girls in 2002, over 12,000 girls have received dresses and accessories through their give away events. In 2009, the girls they benefited came from over 200 high schools, over 40 zip codes, and 100 cities throughout California. At the time I packed my two dresses and sent to them, I told my self that I am proud to be part of this project. I am not a party girl my self, but I knew what prom night means for high school girls in the US.

Join Good Shoe Project

I have been a big fan of Payless Shoes since I came to the US because I could get pair of nice shoes for less. Another thing, Payless Shoes also collaborate with some designers. Lela Rose and Christian Siriano are my favorites. You can buy their shoes at Payless for 9 or 12 dollars! (of course, don’t get them when they are new arrivals). At this moment, Payless Shoes is partnering with World Vision for delivery over 100,000 pairs of shoes to children in need In Central America. They call this “Good Shoe Project”. I would re-write here what Payless described about the project.

Buy One for $19.99. GIVE ONE

How far will your giving go?

When we work together, shoes can take on a whole new meaning.

When you purchase a pair of Airwalk Hope shoes, we’ll send a pair to a child in need in El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua or Guatemala. You can make a real difference. And to the child who receives them, shoes can change his or her life.

A striking number of children across the globe don’t have shoes. The lack of shoes can lead to poor health and injury, which can cause children to miss school and social play, hindering their overall learning and social development. Many schools in rural areas across Central America require shoes and kids that don’t have shoes miss out on education. Shoes also have an immense emotional benefit and can enhance self confidence in children.

‘Although badly needed, shoes are an unfamiliar luxury for many children in these countries, especially in rural villages,’ said David Owens, World Vision’s vice president of corporate development. ‘Shoes can improve a child’s overall health and well-being and bolster self-esteem. Shoes can open the door to education in remote areas. Kids can play, run and jump because they know their feet are protected. Ultimately, shoes have the power to change a child’s point of view from poverty to potential. We are delighted to partner with Payless Shoe Source and its generous customers to provide shoes to children who would otherwise go barefoot or be forced to wear threadbare shoes. We look forward to seeing the positive impact on these children and their communities when we distribute these shoes to the children.

Every time you wear your Airwalk Hope shoes, you can think about the child you helped and suddenly, your favorite shoes will have more meaning than ever.

For quite a while, I have been thinking about buying a pair of  TOMS Shoes for its well-known “One for One Movement”. There was totally different story that inspired this movement, but the aim was the same with the “Good Shoe Project”.  Blake Mycoskie, an American traveled to Argentina in 2006, found that his friend –the children- had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.

In explaining about their movement, TOMS Shoes further elucidates that many children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these children are at risk:

  • A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.
  • Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.
  • Many times children can’t attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don’t have shoes, they don’t go to school. If they don’t receive an education, they don’t have the opportunity to realize their potential.

Anyway, I decided to join the Good Shoe Project because the price of one pair of shoes is making a lot more sense to me than TOMS. If you would like to know more about the project, please visit

http://www.payless.com/store/home/goodshoeproject.jsp

Throw Away a Birthday Party for My Sponsor Child

His name is Ngonidzashe Mataruse. He was born on January 20, 2004. He lives in a community severely affected by the HIV and AIDS crisis in Zimbabwe. I started becoming his sponsor on March 26, 2010. In doing this, I am not only trying to change his life, but also transform his community. Today, World Vision United States is operating project in 27 Area Development Programs and 25,800 boys and girls benefit from child sponsorship program in Zimbabwe. The Tenda (Gokwe) ADP was started in 2000 and currently serves approximately 275 children, Ngonidzashe and his three bothers and one sister are included. World Vision has helped his community with clean water, agriculture and food security, safety education, improved school buildings, child rights and protection campaign, as well as health care. I am glad to join World Vision effort to strengthen the child’s entire community –the decades of proven experience as the most effective way to help a child-. One of my dreams is to see Ngonidzashe and his community GRADUATED! This goal would be achieved in 10 years when the goals to help break the cycle of poverty so children and families can step into the future with well-founded hope are met. And throwing him a special party is just one part of the celebration because like everybody else, children love to celebrate. It is my hope that throwing him a birthday party would be a great way to share hope.

If you want to know more about Sponsor A Child Program, please visit http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML/xxwv2DoChildSearch_B.jsp?xxwvLocation=0000&xxwvOrphan=HOPE