This is Otto.
One day, while robbing a bus with his gang, Otto encountered a young girl who emptied her pockets of what few coins she had and begged him not to hurt her mommy and daddy. Like so many boys living among the poverty and machismo culture of La Limonada, the largest slum in Central America, Otto had been swept into the relentless cycle of violence that is gang life. But on that day, he walked off the bus and never returned.
Instead, he makes shoes for The Root Collective. This, he says, is “sacred work.” Indeed, his entire business plan is to train and hire both young boys and former gang members. Today, among the stacks of rusted aluminum roofs, concrete homes, and violent streets of La Limonada, Otto’s home quadruples as a shoe workshop, safe haven for men and boys, and beacon of hope and change for his entire community.