Walking in their shoes

Braceville, OH – Hiram, OH, 10.8 miles

On more than one occasion on this trip I have been told I do not look like someone on a walk for poverty and homeless. Most days, but by no means all, I have started my morning with a hot shower. I have a computer and cell phone. And I dress more like I am headed to the gym to exercise than to a homeless shelter.

It has been suggested that I try this trip dirty and ill-clothed to see how differently people treat me. But I do not need to forgo showers and wear dirty clothes to know I will be treated badly. It is no secret how we judge people we deem undesirable. I include myself in this–no one wants to spend their time in the company of someone who is filthy and smells like sweat and urine. And I cannot imagine that anyone wants to find themselves in that condition.

I do not need to walk in the shoes of those living in poverty to know their lives are filled with struggle. I do not need to put myself in danger by being ill-clothed, particularly as the weather is getting colder, to know the homeless are living a very precarious existence.

Instead, I hope to inspire people to think about their role in the global community and to take action, no matter how big or small, to improve the living conditions of the more than 37 million in this country living in poverty. We need not walk in someone else’s shoes to understand those living in poverty deserve better.

–By Jennifer E. Cooper