This month, we’re sharing why Adelante is #WorthStandingFor -- offering a glimpse into the stories and lives of the craftsmen making your shoes. Today, we’re introducing you to Horacio Álvarez, a master shoemaker living in Pastores, Guatemala with his wife and three daughters.
Horacio was born into a deeply impoverished family in Pastores, but became intent on finishing school from a young age. His family, and especially his mother, were committed to supporting their children in their pursuits while simultaneously struggling with significant economic difficulties. Nonetheless, Horacio finished high school and was dedicated to studying at the university level.
He was devoted to his education, and was admitted to a university in Guatemala City to study psychology. Thus began an intense schedule of working full time as a shoemaker, taking the chicken bus to and from Guatemala City, studying at the university and sleeping during the rare moments in between. Despite the grueling schedule and financial hardship that came with managing work and intense studies, Horacio’s family was supportive of his commitment to his education. Following his graduation, Horacio married and moved to Pastores. Struggling to find work in his field of study and eager to build a house of his own, he borrowed the funds to start a shoe shop. What began as a risky endeavour grew over time into a landmark of sorts in Pastores. His shop gained renown for the quality of its shoes and the integrity of its craft.
Now, on top of running his own store, Horacio works as the Production Manager in the Adelante workshop, and oversees each step of shoe production. He brings tenacity and unwavering commitment to quality to Adelante, and has done so since the company’s inception. He leads morning “huddles” and motivational speeches for the craftsmen that succeed in inspiring everyone around him. When asked why Adelante is worth standing for, Horacio is quick to bring up his three daughters, all of whom are learning English outside of school. His days are spent between the Adelante workshop, his store, bringing his daughters to and from classes and the occasional basketball session. “The most important thing is to work hard, and to understand the value of work -- I want them to understand where hard work can get you,” he says. “They see how much things have changed since I started with Adelante and I want them to see that they can do the same in their future.”
- Ali Campbell
Adelante Storyteller in Residence