Teaster, who has been with the organization for three-and-a-half years, was in Honduras for the second time, curious and eager to see the group’s microenterprise program in action. He traveled alongside outreach and travel coordinator Tiffany Johnson, who was on her seventh trip to Honduras after eight years with the company.
In fact, this could mark the beginning of a new chapter for Soles4Souls as well. “My vision is being able to say yes to Tracy about [getting more shoes for a store]. We can make a real impact,” said Soles4Souls president and CEO Buddy Teaster. “To see a woman with a [challenging] life say ‘I don’t have any limits,’ you’ll see her make it happen.”
Her influence is strengthened by the support of Raul Carrasco, microenterprise partner for Soles4Souls, who provides the shipments along with the necessary training and selling skills.
“The quality of life is getting better with this opportunity,” Maldonado told this Footwear News reporter, who traveled to Honduras for a four-day journey with Soles4Souls to experience its poverty-fighting work firsthand. “This [program] is supplying different kinds of necessities. It can be food; it can be medicine. My vision now is to build a house and provide a different life for [my family].”
The budding entrepreneur receives one shipment containing 20 to 60 pairs of shoes each quarter to sell to her community. Her earnings are then used to provide basic necessities to her family and other locals.
“I don’t have limits,” said Maldonado, as her son ran up to her proudly displaying his new shoes. “You never know if you’re going to have just one opportunity in this life, so you have to go after it if it crosses your path. I’m thinking about going forward and going far.”
Tracy Maldonado walks with purpose and wears an immeasurable smile on her face. While her children wait in line for a pair of shoes from Soles4Souls, she talks confidently about her visions for the future and dreams of improving the quality of life for her family.
In the rural outskirts of Santa Rita, Honduras — where safe drinking water has been scarce for many years and some families don’t have beds — a single mother of four is acting as the “jefe,” or town leader, in Remolino.