Shoe Drop 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Julie Costa Shoe Drop Journals

It all started with a simple email from Jill,

"Shoes for Mexico

Gather old shoes or good shoes ask others...

doing a collection and I am helping

and want you both to help me also..

We have a couple of weeks… can you make a point to gather some...

goal is 100 pairs I say that is not enough..

We can come by and see you if you help me with this."

This message was all it took before Shannon and I had over 40 shoes collected between the two of us. A special thanks go out to the coaches of San Diego Mesa College, Point Loma High School girls physical education department-where I frequently substitute- as well as friends Layla and Khalisa and my parents Paul and Denise for their contributions. Although our numbers in donations were fewer than a hundred, it served as a special occasion when each pair of shoe was donated to a special boy, girl, or even adult at the orphanages. I was able recognize the particular pair and would smile as each fit a perfectly to a small boy or girl as I helped find a perfect foot for the perfect shoe. Upon my arrival home I shared the personal story of a shoe with those who donated making it more personal for the donator to feel a connection to the experience. They too felt they were on the trip, experienced the smiles and gift of cultures reciprocation and appreciated our efforts even more.

I had "skipped" my Spanish class Thursday evening to take part in this adventura. Which is certainly what it turned out to be in the end. In fact, the moment I saw the printed "directions" to the orphanage once we crossed over the border, I was beginning to notice at the end of every important command it followed with a " ."
Yep, it was blank.

For example, Follow the road past the farmacia mas borato but be sure you don't go__________.
When you get to the next street there will be a split in the road make sure you stay to the side of the road that reads "_______________."

It was at this point in our juncture where I threw out all of the expectations I had for the trip and began to ENJOY the ADVENTURE. Fortunately for me, our team were well seasoned travelers with high spirits, positive energy, and just enough Spanish to get us around the block a few times (even if it was the same one three times in a row). I new this trip for humanity was well worth missing a little class for a real world experience. It was also evident after hours of driving in and around Tijuana, this project was in the hands of a unique and perfect group and although we were realistically only 30 minutes from my home in San Diego, I felt like I could have been continents away.

I am speaking in a world of generalities in my thoughts because my memories, so fond, were well described by my companeros. Some highlights that spoke loudly to me were the orphanages themselves especially the one far removed from society deeply hidden in the burning trash of the hillsides where the paved road ended long before and a dried river bed was the only evidence leading the way.

This orphanage was so far removed it was obvious of the lack of resources feeding basic needs.

One particular observation I made occured with my need to use the restroom after we had arrived (the 10 minutes just down the road, actually was much longer in hind sight). I went up stairs where most of the children were told to wait their turn to claim a new pair of shoes. The room I walked through was crowded with children, clothes everywhere and splotches of blood on the floor leading to the bathroom. The facilities were in desperate need of proper hygiene...but to them it was home. It was all they had. This was life, and so, this was my new home and I was not embarrassed nor did I think twice about the bathroom. If they go there, I will too. (Sort of the mind set after living in Tanzania). The opportunity share their home for the couple hours we were there was a blessing that otherwise would be very hard to find. I feel very good about venturing into an unknown valley of burning garbage to come out on the other end knowing we can help out at that site again in the future.

I feel fortunate to have been apart of this teams event and look forward to our travels ahead, helping where and when we can. Thank you O.T.A.Y.!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Jill Hudspeth Photog - Valentine 2009

Jill Hudspeth - it is not what we do or how much we do , but how much love we put into action, because that action is our love of God in action.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Australia Fire Victims

Friends from OZ, near Victoria, had reached out to our team for assistance with goods. They are looking for any donated clothes, shoes, etc. So far we have 200 shoes in stock, which is ready to be donated. Now, the big trick is, how much can we really ship, and the cost of shipping. The cause keeps going...If you would like to help, contact us at comment in there Australia donation assistance.

Follow our story as we plan to do some drives for goods and donations.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Favorite Quotes From Our Volunteers


"The most visible creators I know are those artists whose medium is life itself. The ones who express the inexpressible - without brush, hammer, clay or guitar. They neither paint nor sculpt - their medium is being. Whatever their presence touches has increased life. They see and don't have to draw. They are the artists of being alive/

-Jay Scott, Satiris


Sow an act and you reap a habit

Sow a habit and you reap a character

Sow a character and you reap a destiny


You will find as you look back upon your life

That the moments when you have really lived are the

Moments when you have done things in the spirit of love

-Henry Drummond


"When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision"

-the alchemist

The Morning After

Most of us woke up pretty early on January 30th, mostly because we were excited to meet the kids for the first time. Because we arrived late last night, this day was our only chance to get to know most of them. The objective for the early part of the morning was to help make breakfast with the cook (Teresa). A side note about the cook, she alone makes meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a house full of 40 kids. Day in day out, she has dedicated herself to helping these kids.
While the girls helped with the breakfast, I took my camera and started taking shots of the neighborhood, to help visualize the environment. Sunrise came you can start seeing some of the story the “barrio” Geographically it’s located is near the beach, which provides a nice breeze. But aside from that, as you look through the buildings you will see the darker side of the community. Graffiti, trash, and old mechanical parts thrown just next to the orphanage, make it seem like a rough place to live at. But in these types of places, even though there is not much to look at, it was still rich in culture. Corner streets with open shops, restaurants, and eatery stands give it some of that flavor. People make the most of what they have there, utilizing every corner of their neighborhood to live, work, and socialize.
Come breakfast time, it was time to serve. We couldn’t help notice the portions being served; scrambled eggs usually about 2 spoons full for an adult. Then maybe 3-4 spoon full of beans. But overall, the kids looked very healthy. Jill had woken up early to help with making breakfast, she really got to know Teresa well. The Julie came after to help with distributing the drinks. Little by little the kids started to come into the dining room, and we were able to meet them. Some were shy, and some were eager to meet us. After breakfast, the kids even participated in cleaning up, from washing the dishes to helping pick up any other trash.
After breakfast we were excited to hand out the shoes, as well as the kids. They knew we had something in the van, so many of them had a sneak peek inside the van. Until to a point the van was filled with kids. No getting around to it, we just told the kids we would place the shoes in the tables so they can better see what fits them. One by one unloading the bags and placing them on the table Jill, Julie, and Kisha placed them. The kids looked so happy and excited to get a new/used pair of shoes. As soon as they started to try them on, it was instant connection and emotional experience. Imaging how far these shoes have traveled, who donated them, and who is receiving them was “awe” experience. One must see to fully appreciate the power of giving and receiving. We tried to document as much as possible to share the images with the donors from the US side. As it was winding down, the team realized the inventory that we had was plentiful; we had more shoes to give away. Then we asked Roberto if there was another orphanage which we can go to that we can donate the rest of it.

As we packed up from the first orphanage, and headed for the next one, little did we know what is ahead of us. As I look back, sometimes unplanned situations or spontaneous decisions are the best experiences in life. While in route, we started off thinking the orphanage was just down the street from the other place. 10 minutes into the drive we notice new developed homes lined up, as soon as you pass this area a road that leads into the mountains was reeking of trash and smell. It was a site to see having a developed area in one side, and mountains of trash on the other. We then started to drive down this hill, and the deeper we went into the mountains, we kept on driving into unpaved roads with big huge holes, and a river flowing next to the road. Literally, this type of road condition is good for horses or 4x4 trucks. As I was thinking to myself, this was a great off the beaten path situation. I decided to really capture the moment and got off the van and started to walk, really not the smartest idea as burning trash filled up the air, a cloud of black smoke. The road went on like this for about 20 minutes, and the van was just paraded wit trash, dirt, and smoke.
As soon as we arrived in the orphanage, we noticed the backdrop view of the place. Lush green vegetation, and wide open space, different from the trek that we just recently went through. Looking from the outside, we noticed this house, thinking maybe they had a small number of kids. Little did we know about what’s in stored for us here. Roberto had gone in first and gave them a heads up on us brining in shoes. Faces of kids where sticking out of the window and the doors, they were curious as to what we had brought. The team lined up the remaining shoes on the table, instructions was given to the kids; 4 at a time they were able to see and pick out a pair. I took a quick tour of this place, I first noticed the kitchen, small, but plenty of soul, per say. It was dark, but having the kids come in numbers at a time to eat felt like the place to be at. They had some of the kitchen needs from pans, some plates, shelves, canned foods, but no refrigerators or stoves. Anything that had to be cooked was on open fire just outside of the house. Just watching the kids eat, you can see how little they have, but they were for the most part happy. Portions of bread and shared soup made a great lunch for them. Open canned goods of corn, beans, peas, and others, was ready to be made into something really tasty. Once I found out the number of kids living there, I was instantly surprised by the food they had to share for 70-80 kids plus a few adults living there. Day in and day out they have 3 meals a day, and some of the shelves I seen was pretty empty, only saw maybe 10 cans at the most. What makes it more interesting is the location of the place. Because it was so remote, it was hard to get to, and I was thinking how they often get supplies for their basic needs. Sure they had the nice view, but really to get to developed areas they would need access to supermarket or stores. This alone was a challenge for them. Outside of the home we saw live stock, which maybe they also try and live a sustainable life style. The team would’ve loved to stay longer and get to know the staff and kids, but considering the time we had to depart after an hour later.
On our way home, most of us shared our thoughts on the experience. Ultimately this was an eye opening for everyone. The power of giving was forever engraved in us, and was avid to do more like projects. Plus, we the spirits high, the team was able to pseudo come up with a non-profit organization name.
On a personal note, looking back on this project, it took a lot of work, but work that was doable. Considering my own busy schedule I was able to manage some time for this project. Having an amazing team helped tremendously make it easy all around. I wonder also if others can also do more for their community or human brothers and sisters.
Jill, Kisha, Josie, and Julie thank you kindly for your generous support and time on the project. I look forward to doing more in the near future.
“Everything is going to be O.T.A.Y”

At first glance when you look at the website, it would seem like they are ordinary construction company. But when you really get to know the people behind the .org there is something more to be said. A few men part of an organization are on a mission to help build houses/orphanage in TJ area. For 9 years, every month, for one week at a time, they make their trips. Little by little pieces of the new place is being built. They are very well loved and appreciated by the kids at Just watching them mentor and guide the kids brings hope to each and every one of them. Plus having come for 9 years, they are like fathers to these kids, as they have seen them grow.

Upon completion of the new orphanage site, the goal is to provide accessible resources for at risk kids and teens. It will be fully equipped with spacious sleeping dormitories, activity places, medical facilities, and many more. We look forward to teaming up with this organization for future Medical Mission trips.

The Church That Showed Us the Way

After crossing the border, we have been driving for about 1 hour or so, and it was getting pretty late. Because we were unable to cross on the first location, we had been detoured about 20 + miles away from our original route. As we were driving and asking for directions to random strangers, it would seem like we were going in circles. Maybe because we were not asking the right questions, of basically, we were lost. Until we have hit a point of frustration, we saw a church cross about 4 blocks up. The cross stood out prominently as if it was calling us to go inside. For some reason everyone had the same idea to go inside the church and ask for proper directions, and be in a safe environment. Kisha the driver, just floored the gas, by passing traffic and on-coming traffic, just so we can just get there already. Afterwards, we went inside to try and ask for assistance. We met a guy who was working there, at first, he did not have a clue where this location was. We tried telling him the name of the barrio, but still nothing. Then we tried calling the organizer of the place, and with luck he picked up the phone. While in the process of getting direction, a family had walked in. Diana, Marco Antonio, and Karla had over-heard our frustration and our challenging navigational moments. She had really made an effort to try and help us, so we decided to ask her to come with us and help us find our destination. So we loaded up the van, and off we went again. At first, it looked like she was very sure of the location, and we hit traffic along the way. We noticed that we were going in the outskirts of the city, which could be good or bad, knowing the situation on the city. Diana tried her best to get us to our destination, and as it turned out, the location given to us previously was different from the actual place. Diana tried very hard to talk and ask people in the street. After 2 hours later, we managed to find the place, which co-incidentally, we had just driven in circles. She said her house was just over the hill, and we could have gotten here in less time if the right directions were given.

Getting to know Diana and her kids, while in the van was a blessing, we all grew a friendship, even if we just met hours before. Afterwards, she had trusted us enough to even invite us to her home. She offered to make us dinner and spend the night. Off course, we were all embarrassed but we did take her offer for drinks of ice tea. The generosity of this family is something to be recognized, even in times of hardship, people with kindest of hearts will find away to help. Marco Antonio, her son, is also someone we have grown to respect, at 15 he was a leader in training. He was determined to make sure to help guide us and find our ways in the city. He was very helpful in so many ways. In return the team had offered several bags of shoes to donate to their church. Apparently, they too also coordinate events for poor kids on Saturdays at the church. They had mentioned that food is scares, and if there is a way to assist in this, we would try our best to bring it in the country. Overall, with this part of the story, we were really grateful to meet new friends who helped us find our way, and offered their home to us.