Boots on the Ground:
Marching On for a Cause
“I’ll do anything to further the vision. It’s about making people wake up to the idea that they can do something for others. There are a lot of people that could make a big change if joining forces. And it takes an open mind to understand that in the end, we are all the same.” our interviewee, Samuel Bistrian, claimed about his own international movement.
Although we live in a society that has already accomplished its modern state, the philanthropic field doesn’t seem to have been affected by any “comfortable” consequences. It can be seen with clear eyes, the NGOs are more and more frequented everyday by youngsters all around the world; charity actions and activities, volunteering, are the result of the “sponsorship” coming from mere 20-years-olds. Philanthropy is in this way flourishing, thriving, due to the many fresh-new-young concepts brought by people, for the people.
This is also the case of Samuel Bistrian, a man with mixed origins and an ambitious destiny. Samuel was born in Romania, but had the chance to travel overseas. It appears that he made the most of the experience, as now he is the founder of his own American charitable brand: Roma Boots.
The story of the “label” is an inspiring one. Childhood memories are revived and Samuel recalls some tiny rubber boots protecting him against the cold throughout a long period of his first years of life. For more than a decade, the pair of boots not only did succeed in protecting him but also, it proved to be of major influence on his life-perspective and choice of work. He chose by instinct and by own personal judgement, sincerely believing in his cause: “I’m not much of a business man, I simply follow my heart.”
To what purpose? Or, how can the Roma Boots brand be considerated a philanthropic concept? Being sustained by teams of volunteers, the system of producing and commercialising rubber boots offers a huge charitable benefit. “Whatever we sell this month, next month we give away. So, if we sold 500 pairs of boots this month, the next one we’ll give 500 pairs away. And we don’t do this visiting the same one village. It happens in different countries, in different villages’’, Samuel explains.
This time, it happened in Romania. And, to make it more of a cheerful event, Roma Boots chose the three national colours for the boots to be distributed: red, yellow and blue. “I think the people in villages reacted in a very humbling, very grateful way, although not all. Some people were even picky about the boots or asked about whether we had also socks. But it’s ok, this should have been expected as the majority were children”, Samuel continued.
Even though people try to avoid it, such an event can expose desperate, profitting attitudes coming from the lower classes. Still, if the whole action is derived from passion, with the aid of perseverance, such reactions may represent just obstacles to be overcome in the way of achieving a personal feeling of success. Probably, this sort of fulfilment represents the actual cause of philanthropy in the first place. Following the example of Roma Boots, Samuel seems to agree with passion: “I simply followed my heart. I believe that when you’re doing something for the right motives, it could be so big and successful...or even small and successful, because success is not measured by the amount of money you gain, but it is measured by how deep you are able to go into somebody’s life. I really want these kids to remember that somebody came, gave them boots, and transformed their lives for the better.”
So, with determination, philanthropy seems to be taking a stand in a technologic era. For some, it becomes also a way of having a morally healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, the youth needs to continue participating in such actions so that our society “can build a muscle to sustain growth”, like our inspiring character, Samuel, has chosen to express his ambitions.
Economic balance will also play an important role in the further development of these actions. Thus, innovative concepts combining the two very different fields can and probably will lead to a worthy result: the improvement of life conditions.
“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver”, once said the American poet, Maya Angelou. Finally, people need to help and support one another, if they want o find meaning in living in our world. Take a chance, volunteer, innovate and stand by your beliefs and you will surely be rewarded more than you might expect.