Amigos de Jesús was founded in 1997. So how is it that a volunteer who served in Honduras in 1993 has made such a huge difference at Amigos de Jesús?
Kenyatta Brame took a year off from law school to volunteer at a children’s home. There he was assigned to work as a houseparent with a group 30 of teenage boys. One of these boys was known for his quick wit, his giant smile, his skills on the soccer field, his one-of-a-kind moves on the dance floor, and for never wanting to do his chores. The reluctance to do chores or any physical labor earned him the nickname “Rey” (king in Spanish).
Rey remembers being leery of Kenyatta, “I’d never had an American be my house parent before, especially not one so big! His Spanish wasn’t very good when he started, but he could tell us what to do with just a few words or one look. I was afraid of him!”
That fear quickly turned to respect and gradually evolved into love and a deep friendship. When Kenyatta left to return to Michigan for Law School, he promised to return, but Rey was sure he’d never see him again.
Kenyatta returned. He has spent every Christmas and multiple other occasions with Rey and the kids he had come to love during his time as a volunteer in Honduras. By keeping his word and staying a part of their lives, Kenyatta’s boys learned they could trust another person; that they are loved and important and special. Rey learned that no matter what has happened in their lives, they matter. Those teenagers Kenyatta came to love during his volunteer year, and the 23 years since, are now adults. Kenyatta’s “kids” are now doctors, lawyers, engineers and countless other men and women who are loving spouses, selfless parents, and successful professionals who are committed to breaking the cycle of violence and poverty from which they came, and to creating a better Honduras.
Kenyatta is quick to make clear that his time and his “kids” in Honduras had even more of an impact on him then he did on them.
“Even in his laziness, Rey was a natural born leader and I knew that if I could motivate him, the others would follow,” Kenyatta remembers. “When I look back and remember the young boy with the odds stacked against him, and I now see the man, father, husband, brother, Tio, and friend he is today, I could not be more proud. In my life, I have been inspired by few people and Rey is one such person. If I had been dealt the hand he was given I am not sure I would have turned out to be as loving, caring, funny (no one makes me laugh harder) and faithful as he is today. Rey makes me believe that no matter what obstacles one is faced with, a person can be successful if given an opportunity...and that everyone deserves a chance at happiness.”
“Some people are born with an inner light that shines bright in the best of times and the worst of times. Rey’s light not only brightens himself, but those he touches. I thank God that he has been such a big part of my life. It is amazing that a boy born half a world away in a tiny village in Honduras could have an everlasting impact on me and my faith in humanity. Thank you Rey, I am forever in your debt.”
Rey is committed to creating a better Honduras by making sure children that have gone through what he has can grow up at a place where they can heal and thrive. When Rey, known to most as Wilson Escoto or “Padrino Wilson,” became Director of Operations of Amigos de Jesús in 2010, one of the first things he wanted to work on was to bring back the volunteer program, which was then on hiatus.
Wilson says, “there are so many people that make life great for our children at Amigos de Jesús, and we couldn’t exist without any of them. But the volunteers just bring something special. Their love, their energy, their idealism, their commitment is so important to our children. I’m where I am in life because of a volunteer, and I want to make sure our children have the same opportunity.”
Gracias, Kenyatta. Gracias, voluntarios de Amigos de Jesús.
-Amy and Wilson Escoto, Operations Directors