Rarely do you find four or five different talents all shelled up with one person. But in Nyx Martinez you find an acclaimed artist, a poet, a dancer, a musician, an actress as well as volunteer willing to help out when the need arises.
Nyx Martinez was born to Christian missionary parents in Manila in the Philippines, 24 years ago. The first of a dozen children, she has grown to show that you do not need a lot of wealth to help the needy.
Nyx remembers following her father, who was a counselor for convicts on death row, to the prisons and hospitals were he was doing his pastoral work. There she developed the big helping heart that she has today. A heart so big that it led her to Sri Lanka at the beginning of the year to help those that had been affected by the Tsunami.
‘I was in Sri Lanka for around a month. My job was to just comfort (the kids who had lost everything) because that was what I could offer’, she narrates.
The product of home schooling, Nyx was reading by the age of two and writing by the age of three.
She grew up traveling to several Asian countries including India: which was her first different culture: Thailand, where she basically lived and grew up until she was a teenager, on to Malaysia, and all over The Philippine Islands.
While doing a college home-schooling course, Nyx worked in a Manila-based multi-media company. At 18, she hosted national radio shows and illustrated MTV storyboards. She worked with charity projects and several disaster relief efforts. She also taught cancer-stricken children at the Philippine General Hospital.
Her journey to Uganda is quite remarkable and memorable.
”In 2001, while volunteering in Bangkok, Thailand, I decided that East Africa was to be my next destination. I wanted to do something more with my life. I knew God was calling me to serve Him in some way so I decided to go”, she says. She booked herself a one-way ticket and has never looked back. In Africa she has since been to South Africa and Kenya.
Nyx has devoted her life to fulltime volunteer work. Her latest venture has taken her to Mulago hospital where she is painting the children’s ward with a couple of her friends and other volunteers. They got sponsorship from Health Volunteers Overseas and Pfizer, and will continue working until it is all painted; with happy pictures that will cheer up the sick kids.
”Do you find yourself Ugandan now that you have spent close to two years here?”, I inquire.
“Me…I’m local. Though I know I stand out from the crowd I consider myself local. I just wish I spoke more local words”, she says, ending this statement with, “Webale nyo ssebo”, Luganda words meaning, ‘thank you sir’.
Nyx speaks fondly of home. “I miss home–especially during Christmas time. It is so different because it is very festive there and it is all about family. But…I am glad I am here.”
I inquire whether she is religious.
“I have more of a personal relationship with God. I am Christian, though non-denominational. I do read the Bible because it gives me inspiration, comfort, encouragement and guidance”, she says. She admits that she is not emotionally strong and therefore depends very much on God.
In her home country, Nyx was trained in art by prestigious Filipino painters at the Ad-Infinity Gallery. This is where she learnt the use of an extraordinary medium—oil pastels on a felt canvas. This is an art form that she showcased at an exhibition that went on for one month at the Sheraton Hotel in April, to raise awareness for the Ik tribe in Northern Uganda.
Here she met a lot of important people including the Kabaka (King) of Buganda.
“I wanted to give the Ik people a different representation, do dispute the perception of them being a savage tribe,” she says. “I realized that they were quite different, good mannered people who had just been ignored for all this time.”
Nyx’s most memorable experience to date is coming to Africa. She sees herself staying on the continent five years from now, with a number of little ‘Nyx-ies’ running around about fifteen years later.