Barefoot Life

barefoot, Originally uploaded by ratterrell.

I found this photo on flickr.com, posted by a guy who seems to be a member of a religious group that goes on missions helping the less fortunate in developing countries. This photo is from a “dump” in Nicaragua where many, very poor, families live and raise their young. The first paragraph of his caption reads:

“over 200 kids and their families live in diriamban dump. our church has started a feeding program within the dump. the youth went and helped within the feeding program on two of the days we re in diriamba. i’m guessing that around a fourth of the kids we saw in the dump had no shoes. we are now starting to work on getting them shoes.”

Time and again, I find photos like this, depicting bare feet a symbol of extreme poverty and misfortune. It is indeed bothersome that images and captions like these only help perpetuating the idea that going bare footed is such a bad, disgraceful thing; compared to the false “privilege” of having one’s feet confined to shoes for hours on end.

I happened to grow up in Central America (El Salvador to be exact), unfortunately shod by a pair of misguided parents and obnoxious societal rules. Throughout my upbringing, I had the fortune to meet and share experience with a lot of these “dump” kids who ran around barefoot and much happier than me and other so-called “privileged” kids…

While I actually commend the work and efforts of these humanitarian groups in trying to provide choice and better life opportunities to these extremely impoverished people, I’ve grown tiresome of the misguidance photos like this one provide to people who haven’t been to countries like El Salvador or Nicaragua and do not get the actual cultural background needed to make an educated judgment. It’s sad how a whole gap is created by over-dramatizing images like this one in favour of making a statement.

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