Putting one foot in front of the other: Shipping shoes to Honduras
February 24, 2016
Shipping a container of shoes from the U.S. to Puerto Cortes, Honduras, for distributing to sales groups sounds like a fairly straightforward project. Ship them, claim them, unload them. After they arrive at port, the process ideally takes four days for them to be released to the receiving party.
Raul was ready for the challenges of something new. A fighter by nature (an MMA champion, to be specific), Raul is tough. He doesn’t go down easily. But from the day the container of shoes arrived in Cortes, Raul was met with wave after wave of bureaucratic barriers. The shoes weren’t categorized properly. The right fees hadn’t been paid. Their origin of manufacturing was in question. Their in-country purpose – profit vs. nonprofit – was vague. Again and again, Raul was given a different reason why the shoes could not be released. And day after day, docking fees piled up, adding to everyone’s stress. It was enough to bring anyone to his knees.
After a month of back and forth, all the paperwork was in order, all fees and taxes were paid, and the shoes were released.
“As frustrated and exasperated as we all were, when we got word that we could finally claim the shoes, we closed that stage and were immediately uplifted by the next one,” said Phillip. “The boys from the Survivor Skills Home were instantly there to unload, and they brought with them friends from the gym and from the orphanage where they used to live. It was a delight to be among such positive energy after having been so discouraged for so long.”
For people being empowered, challenges like the ones we experienced are learning opportunities. With all of our projects, the point is not to ramp up operations as quickly as possible. The point is empowerment, and in this case, Raul was empowered by earning the knowledge of how to ship and receive goods from the United States. While not always enjoyable, these experiences taught Raul (and all of us) many things about properly shipping a container to Honduras. And that knowledge is his forever.