Toms Shoes, Balazs, Two Guys from South Afica…


The guys from Toms Shoes ( visited Cherokee House last week. While they appeared to be quite the eccentric group, their organization seems to be doing some good in Ethiopia. For every pair of shoes they sell, they give away another pair in the developing world (giving away shoes in the developing world is likely the most indirectly profitable thing they can do, which is, in all respects, a good thing). In the southern part of Ethiopia a lot of people evidently suffer from a disease that causes their feet to swell and eventually cripples them. The only thing needed to prevent this disease is a pair of shoes, which prevents the bacteria from entering through the pores of their feet. Toms Shoes was here to give away a couple hundred pairs (if not more, I’m not sure of the exact number; I spoke with them only briefly). Another simple solution to a life threatening disease.

Balazs is, or at least proclaims to be, a world renowned artist ( From all that I can tell, he probably is. At any rate, he appreciates people and culture and is in love with Ethiopia. While he’s not staying at Cherokee House, he visits every other day to report his comings, goings and recently made friends (all native, of course). His plan is to make numerous sketches while in country, return to the States (Raleigh, NC to be specific) and begin painting his favorites. He will then sell the originals as well as prints, with a significant portion of proceeds going to Cherokee Gives Back. He’s also hoping to receive funding from one of the richest developers here in Addis to build a studio for North Carolina artists back in Raleigh in conjunction with a  sister studio in Addis Ababa for artists in Ethiopia.

Two guys from South Africa. Well there were actually six of them, but I only met two. They are traveling from South Africa to Egypt, in two totally packed Toyota 4x4s, in an attempt to document locally based NGOs effectively servicing the social and environmental sectors. Profiles of the organizations they visit can be found at or; an account of their expedition is at . Due to a slow and unreliable internet connection, I’ve been unable to verify the authenticity of these sites and the project itself, but the guys seemed genuine. Heather and I spent Friday afternoon touring them around some of Cherokee’s local NGO partners.


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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