by Alexandra Stonestreet, project manager for Unbound
In recent years, Honduras has become known for corruption, gang violence and drug trafficking. It holds the unfortunate distinction of being home to some of the worst statistics imaginable. Amid the poverty and mounting violence, a bright spot emerges.
His name is Fernando.
He’s growing up in the country with the highest murder rate in the world. Joining a gang, in the hope of gaining protection, is a constant temptation for young men like Fernando.
Despite this, Fernando is kind. He attends school, plays soccer and loves to be with his friends and family. He’s a smart young man who dreams of becoming an accountant.
We should probably mention Fernando was born without arms. Believe it or not, most people don’t even notice his physical disabilities anymore.
Fortunately, this disability hasn’t stopped him from pursuing multiple opportunities in a place where they are few and far between.
In general, there isn’t much opportunity to assist those with special needs in Honduras. Private institutions are one way that Fernando can receive support, but these institutions are expensive and he and his family do not receive any government assistance to help offset those costs. Transportation to and from these places is costly and can take several hours both ways, especially when you have to go on foot.
He’s learned on his own to eat, write and use a computer. Some would say he’s adapting well to the circumstances that life dealt him. Others see him as the inspiring role model that he is.
He faced discrimination when he was younger, but doesn’t let that define him now.
“When I was a child, I remember neighbors pointed and laughed at me,” he said. “My mom talked with them and it never happened again.”
His professor said when he first met Fernando, his physical differences were obvious. Over time, he has come to know him for the incredible young man he is today.
With this kind of support, Fernando is proud of who he is. “Now I accept myself just [for] who I am and who I am in my community and school. My teacher and my classmates treat me like I was one of them,” he said.
He’s become a role model for other students and children in his community and often speaks to groups to give advice.
“I always encourage them to study, keep moving forward and avoid bad habits,” he said. “Look at me, I don’t have arms. This isn’t an impediment to achieve your dreams. You have to fight to be a good person in life.”
It hasn’t been easy getting to this point. He described his life before sponsorship in one word: poor.
“We didn’t have anything, even a bed where we can sleep, chairs for sitting,” Fernando said. “Now I have a better life. With Unbound we were able to improve our house and have tools for a better life.”
With his inherently kind disposition, Fernando is inspired to help others in his community.
“I’m going to start a new challenge at school. I’m going to give classes to people that can’t write or read so they can learn how. I feel prepared to teach them,” he said. “I’m going to work with other classmates and we already have prepared the material.”
He’s brought some of his teaching styles home, too.
“My mother doesn’t know how to write,” he said. “But I taught her to how to write her name and now she can write it!”
Despite the obvious obstacles, Fernando has overcome more than anyone dreamed possible. He says Unbound has been an amazing support in continuing his fight to be a good person and looks forward to being able to study and have a nice job in the future.
We have a feeling Fernando is more than capable of achieving his goal of becoming economically independent and Unbound will be there to encourage him along the way.
Be the difference. Sponsor a young man like Fernando today.