This is a story about a poor Honduran boy, born with nothing, who through determination and a persistent refusal to give up, now finds himself living out his dreams. His journey is fascinating, plagued with tragedy throughout but with an inspiring outcome.
Originally born in Honduras, Cheny was already at a disadvantage. He is part of the two percent of the population that is black, known as the Garifuna. 215 years ago this group was expelled from the island of St. Vincent and since has faced exclusion, racism and dispossession of their land and territory.
Cheny tells us, “I was always fascinated by medicine, but I lived in the jungle as a child”, this meant he had less than limited opportunity.
But that did not stop Cheny, through dogged determination and a refusal to except a similar underprivileged faith as his fellow Hondurans, he managed to secure a scholarship to Cuba to study medicine. Moving to Cuba was, “the best experience of my life,” says Cheny, “it was beautiful.”
Cheny started to meet Cubans, taste Cuban food and to engage in the culture. He was in his element studying medicine, absorbing as much as he could. He was simply living his dream when he received news that would change his life. His mother suddenly passed away in Honduras. Cheny was devastated. He recalls;
“We were a poor family and it was my dream for my mother to see me become a doctor.”
After returning to Honduras for his mother’s funeral, Cheny faced losing his scholarship. So he returned to Cuba, depressed, heartbroken but not defeated, to finish his studies.
During his studies Cheny became friendly with a security guard at the college and his wife. Over the next four years these strangers grew into a family for Cheny. They took him in, spoiled him but most importantly, were there through the tough times he experienced.
The second blow for Cheny came only nine months before graduation when his father’s health took a turn for the worse and he too, passed away. Again, Cheny was devastated, to lose both his mother and father at such a critical time in his life was despairing.
He had lost both his mother and father while he had been in Cuba. He knew that they would never see their son become a doctor, he would never be able to improve their lives and he was never going to able to alleviate their poverty and struggle.
Cheny’s Cuban family swept in and surrounded him with support, warmth and love. They were there when he graduated and were the proudest parents in the hall.
After graduation, Cheny moved to Seattle and is writing the medical transfer tests. He will soon be able to practice medicine in America and is looking forward to his bright future. Cheny has an amazing network of friends, and although both biological parents passed away years ago, he has his adopted family in Cuba.
Cheny uses Ding to send mobile top-up to his family and friends in Cuba nearly every day. It keeps his spirits up and helps him massively during tough times. In fact, Cheny might just be one of the happiest Ding customers we have and he says it is all down to his relationships. “Thanks to Ding I have this big opportunity to stay close to my Cuban family and my friends.”
Cheny is surround by the sense of achievement, that he is making a difference, a real difference in his loved ones lives.
“I know when I use Ding to send them top-up it makes my friends and family very happy and I can contribute to this happiness. I do it because I want to be close to them. Ding has had a big effect on my life and in my heart and this has no price.”