Tomas and his wife Regla have been together for 25 years. They live in Trinidad, Cuba, up on the hill, on the outskirts of town. They have a five-year old daughter and a twenty year old son. I became friends
with this family three years ago. Regla speaks just enough English to work for a couple of restaurants. She greets tourists in the town squares and tries to steer them to “her” restaurants, for which she
receives a small commission. Regla can also access the restaurant’s e-mail about once a week and we are able to stay in touch. Tomas can no longer work.
Tomas is going blind.
As near as we can tell, it’s glaucoma. He has sought treatment for some time, but there are no qualified doctors for Cuban citizens in Trinidad. After months of petitioning the government, he has been given permission to travel to Havana on 16 February to see a specialist. Cuban citizens do not enjoy the freedom to travel. They must have the proper papers.
Tomas and Regla must pay for the eight-hour round-trip bus ride, pay for lodging, and find someone to watch their young daughter who will stay behind. I doubt that either one of them have ever been to Havana. It’s a big city and Trinidad is very small and rural. Their fears must be overwhelming, but its the only hope Tomas has.
Regla confided that they could not afford a good shirt for Tomas to wear. On our last day in Trinidad, we delivered two new shirts and some money. Tomas hugged us all so tightly that no words were necessary.
Holding a photo from the previous year.
This is a digital mapping of Tomas’ eyesight.