Nashville Non-profit Provides Hope For Haitian Souls - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Nashville Non-profit Provides Hope For Haitian Souls

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by Janet Kim

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, - Soles4Souls is a well-known Nashville charity that has gone through changes in the last couple of a years. With a new CEO in recent months, the organization says it's back on track, trying to make a difference one pair of shoes at a time.

As the sun rises in Haiti, it's hard to miss the country's beauty. A closer look and you'll find areas wishing they shined a little brighter.

The markets are a vital part of Haitians' day to day. It's where people like Marie Ange Espera make a living. A lot of what Espera sells are through the Haitian American Caucus' microenterprise program. The very donations are collected by Nashville- based Soles4Souls.

"I think this is healthy and I think this is the right way to actually go where it's not simply giving them a hand out but a hand up," says Sam Darguin with the Haitian American Caucus.

Microenterprise isn't a concept that's always been well understood or accepted, which cast a cloud over Soles4Souls efforts in recent years.

"We weren't clear with people and also and we also didn't talk about it a lot," says CEO Buddy Teaster. "We talked more about giving away shoes, that's easy to understand. There are also a lot of people that are anxious and ask, ‘Are you selling shoes?' That's not what I intended to give them."

However, Teaster defends microenterprise and says it is what fulfills the group's mission to end world poverty. It's also what helps fund the organization's efforts, which is to put shoes on those who need them.

Soles4Souls partners with businesses and individuals to distribute 18 million pairs of shoes worldwide.


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