The child pictured was an orphan in 1999 near Balti and became the inspiration for donors and volunteers to help with subsequent winter shoe missions to Moldova. Her pensive and sad countenance along with her tattered sweater and folded hands accurately portrayed the plight of many orphans hopelessly housed in institutions. Darrell Hancock captured the mood of a young girl who personified thousands of other children like her. They have all received winter shoes over the years helping to keep feet warm and protected.Last week a young girl testified: “CERI gave me winter shoes all of the nine years I have been at my orphan-age.” These comments and many others made all our efforts worth it. Volunteers from the US and Moldova delivered winter shoes made in Moldova at the Zorile Shoe Factory, and although most donations came from donors in theU.S. other donations came from Moldova! Delivering over 8,000 shoes and slippers became a joint project with our Moldovan friends and CERI national staff.It was one late evening when our team was wrapping up our stop at an orphan-age in the far north when I felt the arms of a small child wrapping around me in grateful thanksgiving for a few brief hours spent together at his home and of course a new pair of shoes! Those are moments I know will come but always catch me off guard. To hug a child back and catch a glimpse of his hope and happiness means everything to me. I know this was repeated over and over the two weeks of shoe distribution and every one of us will remember and forever be grateful for the opportunity God gave us to be His hands and feet in a place we have come to love.The young girl pictured is now a young lady living in Tiraspol and working in the open air market. I am grateful that our CERI programs are now equipping and pre-paring youth for a fulfilling and meaningful life. I am also thankful for our dedicated CERI national team who works tirelessly to guide and teach vulnerable youth. Our shoe missions became doors of opportunity for us to reach youth and help them to fulfill their hopes and dreams.
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