Kency's Character

Kency is perhaps our longest-standing youth at UPH. She was a child at Camp Hope, our first ever camp, when UPH began about eight years ago. When I came on staff in 2012, she was one of the most vocal youth we had and was useful in helping me get to know other youth.

Since then she has taken part in many of our programs: she went to repair water filters during a youth retreat and was part of our very first team to climb Honduras' tallest mountain, Mt. Celaque.

Recently she went to the Atlantic coast, to the city of La Ceiba, where a group of our youth participated in various service projects, worked alongside church youth groups, and got to meet people in the Garifuna community; a very unique cultural group within Honduras, with its own language, dances, and foods.

It was while exploring the Garifuna community that she really came into her element and we got to see years of investment pay off. The UPH youth were sharing cultural differences and similarities with an elderly member of the community when it dawned on her that she too was part of a Honduran micro-culture. The community she grew up in is part of the Maya-Chortí culture, and she can still speak some Chortí.

Our biggest dream for our teenagers is that they would become bold leaders--the type of leaders that are unafraid to lead, take the spotlight, and inspire others. And she did just that.

In front of a stranger and a group of her peers, she decided that she wanted to sing them the Honduran national anthem in Chortí herself. Hondurans with rich indigenous heritage are already openly marginalized by other Hondurans, and considered naïve, quaint, and small-town-y. As a teenager, it's not "cool" to stand up and sing a song in front of other teenagers...and much less a song in an indigenous language. But Kency proudly embraced her heritage and created a moment which was truly special for everyone, not because of the quality of her voice but because of the bravery she embodied.

To me this echoed the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.; that his children would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. We were very proud to see such phenomenal character exemplified that day.


Hugh Stacey - Executive Director