Andrea Gomez founded the Stepping Up Project after an eye-opening visit to Petare, Venezuela - one of the largest and most densely populated barrios in Latin America, covering an area nearly the size of Manhattan.
As Venezuela suffers an ongoing humanitarian crisis, 80% of its population lives in poverty. The effects of such hardship are even more devastating for those living in the barrios, where families frequently experience extreme hunger and many, go without shoes.
During her visit to Petare, Andrea had the opportunity to meet local activists who created lunchrooms, or “comedores”, that provide free lunch to children enrolled in school. For many children, this is often their only meal of the day.
However, most children don’t even have access to these comedores due to a lack of decent shoes which would allow them to travel long distances by foot. This, Andrea and her team decided, is a problem they wished to solve - and the Stepping Up Project was born.
The Andrea Gomez team discovered and engaged local Venezuelan cobblers - Antonio Gonzalez and Johny Guillermo. Together with Antonio and Johny, comfortable, versatile shoes and backpacks were created, which not only help provide necessities for children, but also promote the craft of shoemaking in their community.
We are grateful to our community for Stepping Up and helping us provide shoes to the children of Petare, allowing them to pursue their education, enjoy a nutritious meal, and start Stepping Up to the lives they deserve.