Boci's New Shoes
by Austine Royer Smith
LitFire Publishing

"Boci had never had shoes before. Only ragged flip flops."

Prayers are answered and a life transformed in this endearing true tale for children. Boci, who lives in Haiti, has dwarfism and a hunched back. Each day he walks through the village begging for food. Yet he remains cheerful, despite being bullied and mistreated. When a hurricane strikes, Boci and his mother receive help from Sister Austine, an American charity worker. Barefoot, Boci begins to attend church. Sister Austine promises to bring him some shoes when she returns from her next trip to America, measuring his feet by drawing their outlines on a piece of paper. Arriving back home, she realizes she has left the paper. Then she opens a plastic bag of donations left on her front porch and finds new black shoes just Boci’s size. He is delighted with them, never doubting she would keep her promise. Now, with a school uniform and other assistance, Boci can attend school for the first time.

The author dedicates the story of Boci to children in America who made donations for Haitian children. The book is brief and sweet. The black and white photos of Boci and his conditions before contact with Sister Austine’s mission are saddening; yet they are very typical of the desperate situation of the majority of Haitians, who came to the New World as slaves, rose up and gained their freedom, but have had little good fortune, suffering from lack of resources, dictatorships, and many natural disasters. Smith decided to open a mission there after spending time on the island, and her experiences with children like Boci are both heartrending and hope-inspiring. The book offers many lessons for children who have never seen the worst effects of poverty and is especially moving as it involves a handicapped child trying to survive without any assistance from school or government.

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