: 25 years old, Vanessa has two children, ages 5 and 8. They live in a struggling village in Honduras called Monte de los Olivos.
Just a few years ago, the community was living in shacks made of old aluminum siding and tarps on the river banks of El Progreso, the more populated city just 10 miles away. The local government considered them an eyesore and wanted them removed. They were soon relocated to a small palm plantation where they now live. Here, they were left with no access to clean water, housing or means to make a living.
Over the next four years, various nonprofits came to their aid, building new homes, a school, and installing a water well. Despite this progress, one key element was missing: a long-term, sustainable way to provide for themselves and their families.
“I never thought I’d see myself like this,” said Vanessa. “I see myself as a hard worker, I don’t see myself as a failure because I’m always looking towards that better future.”
That hope for a “better future” is exactly what motivates Soles4Souls to provide an opportunity for Vanessa. She’s a hard worker. She’s resourceful. She just needs a chance.
Today Vanessa is involved in Soles4Souls micro-enterprise program, a unique, sustainable solution to poverty that repurposes new and gently used shoes to help entrepreneurs start small businesses. Vanessa and community members have organized a co-op and now have a small location to sell shoes from.
“If we are going to do this, we want to do it together,” says Vanessa. “It doesn’t help if I’m the only one in the village who is being prosperous. But it does help if all of us are being prosperous. We want to set an example, and grow together, so that we’re ALL successful!”