Our leather shoe workshop, originally open exclusively to the students in our Boys Formation Classes will soon be opened to the local community as a whole, Lord willing (aiming this incorporation for late 2018). Our students work alongside their shop instructor, Alex Casco, co-founder and director of LASM-Nicaragua, who as a young man worked as a professional leather worker and shoemaker himself. Alex says that he learned the trade to help himself at 13 years of age because his family did not have the resources to buy him everything he wanted so he took measures into his own hands. In 6 months he learned the trade and was bringing in roughly 2000C$ ($70 CAN) per week (25+ years ago) and spending it on recording records (also a singer-songwriter since youth), new running shoes (80’s hightops”), MC hammer pants and whatever clothing was in style at the time. Alex learned the trade in his own hometown of Chinendega, Chinendega and spent 4 years working in his country after later working the trade in El Salvador for one. Alex tells of his long hours in El Salvador, starting at 7 am and working until 9 pm because of the love he had for the art and the “high” he felt bringing in his own money, and good money at that.
In 2010, as a beginner missionary in Honduras, Alex spent 8 months working alongside of wheelchair bound men who suffered “curved spine” after lobster diving accidents. Upon moving our family back to Nicaragua, he left behind an industrial leather sewing machine and a few hand tools giving them a new means to work and bring in income. We believe that if our boys choose to dedicate themselves to learning this trade, and excelling at it, the sky is the limit for them. Poverty cycles will be broken just as fast as they want them to, it depends on them; we have put the fishing rod in their hands.
Our boys must complete a 6-hour Entrepreneurship and Business Training Seminar before holding a tool or leather in their hands.Sadly, this is as far as many of the boys go. Renewing mentalities after living years of poverty like our boys have is not an easy feat. They say poverty is a mentality and although the hands-on work of changing that does not happen overnight, it is what LASM strives for.
After the training seminar, our boys follow these six steps to turn the first sketch into the finished shoe.