Isiolo - Paola Viola, together with Gigliola Barlese, has founded three years ago a non-profit organization in Treviso: “Una Mano per un Sorriso – For Children” with the intent to follow and develop some humanitarian projects for the defence of children’s rights in the world.
The adventure began then in Kenya three summers ago when Paola went to deliver the funds raised during the first season of activities of the association and work as a volunteer for a month at the school in Isiolo.
The school is called “Loreto Nursery and Primary Shool” and accommodates 700 children from three to fifteen years. The task of Paola was to create a photographic census and rating of all the children of the school. These photographs, explain Sister Maria Luisa, would help to raise founds in Italy. In a few days she photographed then hundreds of smiles, every smile was different and every look helped her to enter their world. Paola started to spend time watching them, sitting in a corner of their class, waiting for the time for a break to play with them.
“The first time I looked down and saw their shoes I realized how far they had done and how much I still have to make in order to become “big” like them. I started to watch under their desks and photograph their shoes. School provides children with a uniform, which for many is the only garment they own, but they have to provide the shoes by themselves and so every pair of shoes becomes a story, a face, a smile”, she said.
Few months after her return in Italy Maria Luisa wrote an e-mail to Paola that contained this thought: “Your first shot of the feet was a curious experience for them and has raised the question,” What will you do with our feet?”. All children ask: “When will the girl of the shoes come back?”
A few months ago one of the supporters of the non-profit organization fell in love with the photograph of the shoes of a little girl of the school and asked Paola what is her dream. For Paola the Dream is to give shoes to the children in Isiolo! This person, then, donated 250 euro to buy shoes for the children of the school.
The first “mission” of Una Mano per un Sorriso will be this: Maria Luisa says that in the Nursery are thirty-two children who do not have shoes. We will begin the journey in this way: once we arrive to the school, we will measure the feet of barefoot children then we’ll go to the market of Meru to buy shoes for “our little angels” as Paola likes to call them. I do not know if every pair of shoes can give a smile, but Paola is sure it will be a small gesture that will help us to support them in their daily walk.
By Marta Talpelli. Photos by Paola Viola.
With the support of: Una Mano Per Un Sorriso.