Girl with pink shoes, love for humanitarian work inspires creation of nonprofit

Darci Burke, founder of Pink Shoes, finds Eyerus, the inspiration behind Burke's nonprofit organization, Korah, Ethiopia, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Darci Burke, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — As Darci Burke was getting ready to leave from handing out clothing donations in Korah, Ethiopia, she couldn’t help but notice a little girl walking up with two right shoes on — one too big and one too small.

Burke, a St. George resident and founder of Pink Shoes, was in Korah, known as a trash dump community located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, completing humanitarian work with a team from Ordinary Hero in January 2017. She and her team had just finished handing out the rest of the donations they had and were preparing to load into vans to leave when the girl approached them.

“We felt so bad leaving her there because we didn’t have anything to give, especially a pair of shoes,” Burke said.

Luckily, Burke said, her son who was with her on the trip remembered putting a pair of pink shoes under the seats in the van that morning.

Eyerus, a girl from Korah, Ethiopia, receives pink shoes after approaching Darci Burke and other volunteers in Ethiopia, January 2017 | Photo courtesy of Darci Burke, St. George News

“He brought them out, and we put them on her, and they were the perfect size,” she said. “It was like Christmas morning for her putting on this pair of pink shoes.”

Burke eventually returned to the U.S. She knew nothing else about the girl she put a pair of pink shoes on, but she said she couldn’t stop thinking about her.

The girl with the pink shoes and bright smile and Burke’s love for doing humanitarian work inspired her to create a nonprofit organization called Pink Shoes. The organization is dedicated to helping the people living in the trash dump community.

The organization accepts donations to help provide funds for rent, food and medical care for the community. Donations of clothes and shoes are often brought to the community as well.

The people of Korah live in and solely rely on the trash dump for their survival, Burke said. People will dig through the trash to find food or items to sell, like plastic water bottles. They also make their homes out of trash.

Burke returned to Korah three weeks ago with a volunteer team from her organization to help the community and find the girl with the pink shoes again.

A home made out of trash in Korah, Ethiopia, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Darci Burke, St. George News

“Out of 150,000 people, I knew that was kind of a daunting task because I had no idea where she lived or who knew her,” she said.

As she was walking around the trash dump handing out donations one morning with her team and a translator, she would show a picture of the girl she had on her phone to community members in hopes of someone knowing where she was. No one had seen her, and Burke said she began to feel discouraged.

While the team went to lunch that day, the translator decided to stay behind to help find the girl because he knew how important it was for Burke to find this girl. And he found her.

“He called us and said, ‘I think I found her,’” she said. “So we got back from lunch, and there she was. She was waiting for us, just this cute little girl.”

Burke was finally able to put a name to the girl in the pink shoes, Eyerus.

Burke said she and the other volunteers moved Eyerus and the girl’s mom to a new home because their former home was collapsing. Burke also made sure Eyerus and her mother were taken care of and that Eyerus would end up going to a good school.

While on that same trip, Burke and volunteers used funds raised for Pink Shoes to pay rent for seven widows in the community, buy 10 mattresses for people who slept on piled up garbage and provide medical treatment for people with leprosy, AIDS or tuberculosis.

Burke’s long-term goal for Pink Shoes is to build a school in Korah.

I feel like an education is the only means for the kids to get out of the trash dump,” she said.

Burke is planning another trip to Korah in fall 2018. To learn more about Pink Shoes and its mission, visit its website. Donations can also be made at the website.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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