Footwear Plus MagazineShoesday Tuesdays - Sponsored by WSA  

Nearly a year after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, the nation's limited resources are being stretched even thinner as the country battles a massive cholera outbreak and other health emergencies. The public health crises confirm the country's dire need for proper footwear to help prevent disease.

"We have learned that people who own very little walk a lot. Many of them end up with foot infections that can be deadly," says Steven Lax, president of Yaleet Inc, the U.S. distributor of Naot footwear. "By giving new shoes, we're giving them comfort and improving their health."

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The tragedy struck close to the Yaleet family, as some of the company's employees are originally from Haiti and have family members that were directly affected. Specifically, Lax asked employees and Haitian natives St. Jean Gertilus and Rony Vassort to select charitable organizations to receive donations of more than 2,000 pairs of Naot shoes. Gertilus chose the Church of Prophecy of God, a Haitian faith organization located in Roosevelt, NY, at which he is a deacon. The church distributed the new footwear alongside food and supplies to help foster the country's weak education system. Gertilus says Haiti needs a tremendous amount of aid and is dependent on other sources to help where its government cannot. "I feel like my blessings are continuing on to my people through my job," he says. "I am so happy that our company can be of assistance."

Vassort chose Brooklyn, NY-based Korebel Foundation based on its direct support of one of Haiti's most impoverished areas, Bel Air. The foundation called Vassort the night they received the shoes to offer its thanks. "I told them that is was very important for my boss to send the donations directly to some of the people most in need," he says, adding that little has changed since the quake hit. "Everybody is still in the streets or living in tents," he says. "It's a very unsanitary condition to live in." Taking his commitment a step further, Vassort and his wife recently adopted a 5-year-old Haitian orphan named Sofia, who lost her entire immediate family in the quake.

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