Nane (whose real name is Joel Enrique), along with his brothers Juan Carlos and Pipo (Yair), is one of the jovenes who has been at Amigos de Jesus the longest. Nane is loyal and hard-working. He loves to sing and dance, and is filled with positivity and energy. Nane can brighten the darkest day and embodies the spirit of hope that so typifies Amigos de Jesus.
Most days, Nane can be found in the taller de madera, the woodshop at Amigos. He is very skilled at carpentry and at fixing things in general. I’ve witnessed Nane painting buildings, renovating rickety wooden benches, and repairing screens just to name a few of his abilities. You can often hear his laugh emanating from the taller, combined with the sounds of music and circular saws. Nane and the other apprentices in the taller know how to have fun and enjoy each other’s company while they work.
I had heard that Nane liked to dance and sing, but I did not realize just HOW MUCH he liked to sing and dance until the first party I attended at Amigos de Jesus, a few weeks after I arrived. A tent had been set up outside dorm four specifically for dancing, along with a rather powerful sound system. Many of the kids and jovenes were gleefully playing with the fluorescent rings that Fr. Den had brought from the States, and some would periodically take breaks from the rings to dance to a song or two. But not Nane. He did not budge from under that tent for the whole evening. He knew the words to every single song and had no qualms about belting them out. He perfected his dance moves by the third song. Since that party, if I ever need to find Nane during an event, I head straight for the dance floor.
Nane is resilient and manages to be positive, regardless of the situation. Once, he fell in a ditch on the side of the field during a soccer tournament—he really took a tumble and hit the ground hard. For the next three days at breakfast I would ask him how he was feeling. Nane barely complained, instead laughing good-naturedly at the fall and the resulting soreness in his arm and shoulder. Nane’s genial, hopeful nature is a bright light at Amigos de Jesus.
~ Genevieve Volpe, 2015-15 volunteer
*Nane is over 18 years old, and therefore provided permission for his name to be disclosed online. His only condition was that we also include his birth name (Joel Enrique), and not just the name we all know and love him by ("Nane").