The memories of a mission trip to our sister diocese in the Dominican Republic two years ago never really left young Marlie Monserez’s heart. Before the sunrise each day, Marlie and her peers from Bishop Moore Catholic high school would walk 45-minutes to the closest school for a day of teaching. The best part of this hike was the ever-growing entourage of children who would join them, taking their daily journey much more slowly to accommodate the missionaries’ pace. Some of these children had already walked for an hour from a village much farther away, but their dusty feet in worn shoes would lock in step with Marlie’s.
Marlie recalls watching the children navigate the rocky, steep mountainside. “I vividly remember seeing a baby, just learning to walk, wearing shoes twice her size,” she said. “I saw children running around in flip flops that were too small.”
When Marlie returned from the mission, the images of little feet stayed fixed in her mind. She began to research and discovered the organization, “The Shoe that Grows.” The company creates durable footwear that can grow up to five sizes and are made to last five years. The former missionary knew this was exactly what the children needed.
After fundraising and getting donations from the company, Marlie secured hundreds of shoes for the children on the mountain. Although she is now a college student at the University of Florida, playing volleyball for the Gators, she got the shoes to Bishop Moore Catholic just in time for another group of student missionaries to deliver them.
“I felt overjoyed when I saw the pictures of the children I had bonded with wearing the shoes,” said Marlie. “All that I did to raise money was for those wonderful souls, and I am entirely grateful that I was able to give back in some way. Seeing the joy in the children’s faces is something I will never forget, and I thank God for making it happen.”
If you would like to contribute to this project so more children can have proper footwear in the mountains go to https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/111610
Please write “Mission shoes” in the designation.
Amanda Livermore, Special to the Florida Catholic – February 15, 2019