Action Zones 

Shoeboxes of Smiles for Niger Children

ADRA-UK's Godwin Benjamin visited in early May to help with the distribution of the Shoebox Appeal 2010. Eleadra2ctions in the country were among factors that held up the distribution – but the response from the children was profoundly moving.




is the second poorest and most underdeveloped country in the world.  75% of the population is illiterate, it has the highest birth rate in the world yet 1 in 5 children die before the age of 5.  Children go to school and collapse in the classroom from hunger because they have not eaten for days.  Against this backdrop, the gifts provided in the shoeboxes are priceless to the kids receiving them.




Godwin visited many schools and an orphanage to share shoeboxes on behalf of the donors in the .  Godwin recounts: "When the shoebox is first presented to the kids, you can see from their facial expressions, they are asking "is this for me?"  Then when they sit with it in front of them they are still unsure.  Even when they are told they can open them, some kids are still reluctant.  When they are finally opened and they see the contents, the smiles, the cheering and pleasure cantinc't be put into words."

Jason Brooks, Country director for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Niger stated, "The value of the gifts was not just that desperately poor children received some useful and fun items that put a huge smile on their faces; the value was also in showing that people far away cared enough to do something that touched them so personally, right where they are.  The shoeboxes were a blessing to the school children, and it was a blessing to me seeing kids that were so overwhelmed with joy at the generosity and kindness of all those who contributed."




Godwin adds, "During my six days in Niger I had seen real poverty first-hand and this was particularly evident in the number of children who are on the street begging (in fact many children go to school in the morning and go begging in the afternoon).  This brought home to me how blessed our children are in this country.  However, my abiding memory of my visit is the smiles and jubilation on the faces of all the kids on receiving a few goodies in a shoebox.  For one day we were able to take them away from their mundane lives and give them a gift which brought them some much needed happiness."




Looking forward to the 2011 appeal he suggests, "Next time you buy some shoes and the shop assistant asks you if you want the box, tell them "yes, because this box can be used to bring happiness to a child in a far away country, if only for a day".






By courtesy of Adventist BUC News