In my life I have been continually blessed with meeting the most incredible and interesting people. One such person is Kuni.
Kuni lives in the Cays of Utila. He works at the beautiful resort, Utopia Village, next to my house here in Utila. While each person at this resort is so beautiful, kind and giving, full of stories and trials most of which I can not imagine-Kuni stands out.
Everyday around 5:30 am you can find him cleaning the plastic off of the beach at the resort. Then throughout the day you can find him raking, cleaning, and doing other general maintenance to help make the resort the amazing place it is. Although he doesn’t speak any English and my Spanish is not up to par yet, he teaches me something every time I see him. I have known he was special, as everyone here does, but I didn’t know how special.
See the thing about Kuni is that he is never without a smile so big that it lights up our entire little section of the world. He is so full of joy that it literally can not be contained. He greets me in the morning with a glorious smile, and a joyful hello. Each time I ask him how he is he answers me with “Very good. I feel so much happiness today.” When you see Kuni, no matter where or when, you will get the same huge smile, and a beautiful thumbs up and then without you even knowing it your day is so much better.
This weekend I learned Kuni’s story. He is a relatively young man who has a young daughter. She lives with her mother on the mainland of Honduras. Kuni works hard to send money to her as often as he can. At some point in the last few years Kuni was going to America. He was headed through Mexico when he was kidnapped by some very horrific local people. They kidnap people and then hold them for ransom to make a living. Kuni, as most people in Honduras I would imagine, knew of these people and he knew that his family had no money to send. This meant he had no value, and with no value you are dead. He was kept in squalor and barely fed anything. He knew his days were very numbered.
Kuni, being Kuni, found a way to show his value in order to save his life. He did something I would imagine most people, in the same situation, would not or could not do. He created a value for himself. He began by telling them that he was able to cook and would be very happy to cook and clean to help them. He started helping out where he could. As the days wore on and there was no response from his family for these kidnappers he worked hard to secure a place there cooking and cleaning their dishes. Once the men were ready to move on they released Kuni to try to find a way back home, with no food and no money, but at least with his life.
The sadness of this story to me is not only in the kidnapping but the fact that once he reached the border his brother and sister were not there for him. When he called them from Mexico, they did not answer, when the kidnappers called them they did not answer. While they would have had no money to send the fact that they did not answer for Kuni or the kidnappers must have been completely heartbreaking for him after such a journey to reach them.
Kuni has become an inspiration to so many of us here. When we have a grumpy morning, or feel overwhelmed, a quick hello, beaming smile and kind greeting from Kuni are all it takes to be reminded that no matter what life gives you it is your choice what you do with it. For Kuni, it is to find gratitude for every day, and to share that gratitude with all of us lucky enough to know him.