Above are my first pair of Toms purchased here in Cameroon! I bought these from one of the many vendors selling them along the road for 3000 CFA or $6. A little better than what they typically retail for at your local Nordstrom.

So last week back on April 16th, Toms had their annual One Day Without Shoes campaign to raise awareness of all the poor barefoot children   sell a few more shoes and give 20something hipsters another excuse to talk about something they don’t understand.

I have been trying to figure out what to say to mark the occasion and celebrate my fabulous new kicks at the same time, but I realized that I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said before.

If you don’t already know, TOMS is an an inefficient aid model, it perpetuates the wrong-headed idea of giving stuff, it it plays favorites with evangelical organizations, and in some case, even does real harm to the fragile economies of developing communities. You can read more here.

Some in the aid community will go as far as to say don’t buy TOMS, I personally like the shoes (Mollie and I wore them on our wedding day!).  But I find the model to leave a lot to be desired. I say buy what you want, but be an informed consumer and realize that the products you are buying may not be doing all the good they claim to be; they may actually be doing harm.

1 comment
  1. Hey Shaun and Mollie!
    I love reading all your posts because it is getting me so excited to join you all as a PCV in Cameroon in September! Thank you so much for posting this. I long been aware of the ineffectiveness of TOMS (although I do own a few pairs because they are so dang comfy!), and I am SO happy to see that you both are such enlightened PCVs that realize the difference of good and bad aid and putting it so eloquently in this post.
    Hope you all have better weather out there in Cameroon than it is here in Chicago, IL!
    Sending warm regards,
    Karen Kilberg

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