A lesson to learn

Published 4:59 am Friday, October 17, 2008

By Staff
North Carolinians, the whole world for that matter, should learn a lesson in humility from the founder of the Samaritan’s Feet charity.
Emmanuel ‘‘Manny’’ Ohonme, a native of Nigeria, is walking barefoot from Charlotte to Atlanta in an effort to help put 300,000 pairs of shoes on the feet of needy children around the world. He started his barefoot walk, known as World Walk, Saturday in Charlotte. He expects to reach Atlanta on Oct. 26.
Not only is Ohonme talking the talk, he’s walking the walk. That’s something the majority of us would not do. Oh, we will talk a good game when it comes to helping the less fortunate of this world. Some of us will put our words into action. But how many of us would put ourselves in a position that guarantees pain and discomfort?
Earlier this week, Ohonme told The Charlotte Observer he developed major blisters in the beginning stages of his barefoot walk. He is not allowing those blisters from stopping him from completing his walk. While in Gaffney, S.C., Ohonme had a doctor treat his blisters. He told the newspaper that many children living in poverty are forced to walk barefoot every day.
Ohonme is asking people around the world to walk one mile Oct. 25. Samaritan’s Feet’s goal, through its Shoe of Hope project, is to send 10 million shoes in 10 years to children living in poverty. It also wants to raise $1 million in pledges during the trek from Charlotte to Atlanta to help it carry out its objective.
The charity’s effort is attracting sponsors. NASCAR sponsored a Track Walk as part of its activities last weekend in Charlotte. At the conclusion of the Track Walk, Ohonme began his 300-mile walk. That walk will conclude at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Fila, the Italian sportswear brand, has joined the effort. During October, Fila will donate a new pair of shoes to Samaritan’s Feet each time a pair of shoes is purchased online at http://www.fila.com/samaritansfeet.org.
Why would Samaritan’s Feet partner with NASCAR and Fila? Samaritan’s Feet is an international ministry that works to bring a life-changing message of hope to youths and children through sports and recreational adventures, according to its Web site. That means Samaritan’s Feet is concerned about more than just placing shoes on the feet of poor children.
There are many charities that do good work for and with children.
But Ohonme’s decision to walk 300 miles barefoot to draw attention to the poor children of the world is going that extra mile — 300 miles to be exact.
No doubt the World Walk serves as a symbol for Samaritan’s Feet’s efforts. Those blisters on Ohonme’s feet should serve as reminders that not everyone enjoys a comfortable life. They are reminders that for many people, especially children, life is a struggle. Sometimes that struggle means walking barefoot to search for food and water.
Ohonme’s walk is raising blisters on his feet. For the children’s sake, let us hope his barefoot walk raises awareness of the plight of needy children around the world, including those in the United States.
We cannot walk a mile in Ohonme’s shoes — he is not wearing any. But we can understand the message his 300-mile gesture sends. That message is simple: It’s up to each person to do what he or she can to help others in need.
Sometimes that means helping others until it hurts us.