An enormous thank you to Start-Rite shoes for the large donation of new shoes they gave us some months ago. They have been distributed this week to children living in camps for internally displaced people in Iraq. Some of these pictures are from a camp outside Dohuk in the Kurdistan Region of Northern Iraq. Shoes are such a precious relief item in these areas as they are expensive.
Many of you will know that shoes were the inspiration behind Samara's Aid Appeal.
When I first heard reports that there were children living in refugee camps in the Middle East in winter wearing flip flips in the snow, I was heart broken to think that this was possible in this day and age.
While my 15 month old learnt to walk in the comfort of a centrally heated home with more clothes and shoes than we needed, other mothers were having to raise their children in tents in the snow without something as basic as shoes or winter clothes. They had fled in summer with just the clothes they had been wearing at the time.
What broke my heart most of all was the realisation that we had allowed this to happen. You and me. We have so much in the West, while these people were dying of hypothermia in camps across the Middle East in snow storms and sub zero temperatures. When I thought of the excesses of clothes, shoes and warm bedding that we have in the UK, tucked away in our cupboards and attics, I couldn't sit by without doing something to try to send some of what we have to those people who had nothing.
In August 2014, I set out to fill one lorry of winter aid to send to Iraq. Today, we loaded and sent the 46th consignment to the Middle East. Last month we opened a hospital in Syria and we are working towards opening two more.
Everything we do is possible because of you, and only because of you. Every person who collects aid in their communities, churches and schools makes this work happen. I am grateful to all of you, and the people like Ben who contacted Start-Rite for us to ask for an organise this donation of shoes. It is through people like you that we have been able to clothe more than 100,000 people in less than two years.
For more information about how you can get involved and do something practical to help the 23.5 million people in need of humanitarian help in Syria and Iraq, please request an information pack throughwww.samarasaidappeal.org/collectors
Thanks so much.