Members of the Deluxe Shoes association display finished shoes in the Dominican Republic.
Ernesto Sena (center in blue shirt) used to be a farmer with about 3,000 plantain trees. But in 2007 the water from Lake Enriquillo started to rise. The water eventually drowned about 80 percent of his crop.
Ernesto, 43, tried to work the remaining land, but couldn’t make ends meet so he did other jobs—construction, crabbing, and fishing.
Then he got the idea for shoemaking. Since some of his six children were sponsored, he asked World Vision for help.
World Vision provided initial training and materials for shoemaking: three heavy duty sewing machines, one leather thinner machine, shoe patterns, leathers, rubber soles, thread, and wax.
That first year, Ernesto made two or three pairs of shoes per week by himself. Now 14 men are in the shoemaking association, and they’ve increased production to 24 pairs a week.
World Vision also helps out with marketing, sales, budgeting, customer service, and capital management training.
Ernesto now earns enough to pay for university tuition, books, and living expenses for two of his children—Remigio, 20, and Ederlin, 18.
"I feel peace and proud to give them a better life. I would like them to be ready, develop as human beings and also able to make their own profit," he says about his children, six in all.
Photo©2016 World Vision, Eugene Lee