What does Jose Martir, a native born Honduran, and a Canadian Hockey Player have in common? While this question is frequently the set-up phrase for one of the oldest jokes around, this punch line explanation comparatively illustrates how seriously the Unión MicroFinanza (UMF) team respects Martir.
The Canadian I am speaking of is known all around the world as Steve Yzerman or simply “The Captain.” I watched Yzerman play hockey almost my entire life before his retirement in 2006. He was an astounding player, but it was through his role as captain of the Detroit Redwings were he created his legacy. He did not lead his team with words, but by example through his abilities, effort and passion. And, in his later days when his skill dwindled down you realized how much Yzerman just plain worked, hustled, gave it his all and superbly used his mind and body as one coherent unit to make great decisions. This resulted in Yzerman serving as the longest captain of a professional sports team in North American history. In all Yzerman was captain of the Detroit Redwings for 20 seasons, 1300 games and in that span led the Redwings to three Stanley Cups while winning almost every major award in the sport of hockey.
Martir exhibits many similar character traits to Yzerman. Martir is an exceptionally knowledgable person and a man of few words. Martir's presence brings a calming assurance that lends a great deal of confidence to our team. UMF's confidence in Martir was earned with his outstanding knowledge and character, his dedicated work ethic, and his passion for the community.
Martir is 32 years old and was born in raised in La Unión, Honduras; the same area in which UMF conducts primary operations. He is a graduate of the local colegio (high school) and has a degree as a social promoter. Much like his Honduran co-worker Gilberto, Martir seems to stand out from the rest of his peers. He is a great father who provides for his family and teaches them the principles he lives by. Martir's oldest son is often with him and given the chance will work just as hard as his dad.
I became aware of Martir's abilities years before the creation of UMF, but failed to fully realize what an extraordinary individual he is. One summer I eagerly traveled with a mission team to provide help in Quiscamote, which is now one of UMF’s loan villages, and remember working on a latrine (small bathroom) project. We decided we were going to build one more latrine for a widow on the edge of town. To start, we had to dig a 10 foot hole into the mountainside. After digging about 4 feet we hit a giant rock vain. We kept digging deeper around it but realized that we were going to have to break throw it. We used iron spuds for about three hours, pounding away at the rock with little progress. Towards the end of the day, with a swift confident motion of his hand, Martir quietly took hold of the hammer. With two precise blows on a key vain in the rock, he broke off a 500 pound chunk which we then dragged out of the whole. For everyone who witnessed Martir demonstrate, with precision, his understanding of the Earth, the moment will forever be ingrained in our minds. For Martir, is was nothing more than another days work.
From overseeing service team projects, fixing the company motorcycle, conducting loan meetings and training sessions, entering data into the computer, and overseeing coffee quality control, he does it all. Behind these abilities is an incomprehensible work ethic. He works long after business on days off and sometimes needs to be reminded he should slow down. Martir may never receive the awards of a professional sports player, but he is establishing his own legacy just the same. Martir will be locally renowned and always remembered for his astounding impact on the development of La Unión.
And that is Jose Martir: the Rock, the Captain.
By Andrew Boyd