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A New Smile

Recently, I visited a couple of the most eastern provinces of Cuba.

While staying in a very nice casa particular, I noticed the cleaning lady had very bad teeth. She was talkative, but she was very self conscious and would always cover her mouth. I learned that she was only 30 years old and had two children. I eventually asked her why she did not have dental work done for free by the state. Her answer was most enlightening.

She told me that, yes, she could have the work done, but there were no good dentists in the city (one of the largest in the east). The few good dentists were working on there own and charging much more than the average Cuban could afford. The good dentists had access, through the black market, to newer instruments and anesthesia that were not available from the state doctors. Dental work with no anesthesia? That would certainly prevent me from having any work done in my mouth.

About a month after I returned to the U.S. I received an e-mail from this cleaning lady. I had encouraged her to seek out a dentist and get an evaluation. She was told that her best option was to have all her teeth removed and be fitted with a complete set of dentures. She never asked for any money, but the price seemed quite reasonable to me, so I offered.

She was nervous and scared, but thrilled to have the opportunity to smile again.

The entire extraction process took over two weeks and was done in stages because the dentist had to search out and purchase anesthesia and pain medicine for the extraction sessions.

Dentures were made, again by a private technician and not by the state. Eventually this woman got her new teeth and her smile back.

I have to thank my small group of friends for their generous finacial support and trust in me. These are all friends who have been to Cuba, seen the poverty, and have helped before.

Thank you Victoria, Louise, Kate, Susan, Pamela, Tracy, Faye, and yes, even Roberto.

 

Cell phone images e-mailed to me:

Agua Potable

Decades after the revolution many people still lack basic necessities, like water that’s fit to drink.

In cities, the years of neglect result in pipes, valves, pumps, and tanks that are cracked, corroded and leaking. When water does arrive, it is with little pressure and often has a foul odor. Apparently chlorination is unreliable as well.

I don’t know if anyone officially declares the water unsafe to drink, or for that matter, who declares the delivered water potable.

Always a problem in Trinidad, Cuba:        https://wp.me/s4fUlX-agua

Trinidad, Cuba

Holgiun, Cuba

Holgiun, Cuba

Camaguey, Cuba

San Jose, Cuba

Havana

The Home Of Jose

Continued from : A Tornado In Havana

https://wp.me/p4fUlX-18X

Just down the street from Rolando, we met Jose who also wanted to show us the tornado damage to his home.

Jose had worked laboriously to remove all the rubble from his home, but we could see where walls were missing.

Many of the rooms were now open to the elements.

The Home of Rolando

Continued from ” A Tornado In Havana”

https://wp.me/p4fUlX-18X

Rolando saw us walking in the street and motioned to us. “Come into my home and see the damage”

 

He led us through his home where 12 people were living the night the tornado struck. Luckily, no one was injured here.

Most of the rooms were missing roofs.

 

Some of the rooms were missing walls that had been blown apart.

 

Things that were saved are now covered with plastic sheeting to protect them from afternoon showers.

 

Family members. Some still in shock.

 

Still managing to smile.

A Tornado In Havana

What else can happen to the good people of Havana?  …. a tornado!

On the evening of 2 February, 2019 a tornado formed and touched down in Diez de Octobre. It then raced across Luyano, Regla, and Guanabacoa; all poor barrios of Havana. Three persons lost their lives and almost 300 were injured.

My small group of travelers and I were there one week after the tragic event.

While the government had done a reasonably good job of restoring power and clearing the streets, little was being done to help the people who had significant losses. In fact, it was the churches, not the government who took care of the people. Soup kitchens were set up to prepare donated food, donated clothes were passed out, and shelter was provided those who had lost everything.

Clearing the streets.

 

These men were salvaging parts from this smashed car.

The biggest problem was wooden roofs that offered no structural support. Once the roofs blew away, walls then collapsed either inward or outward.

Of course many concrete roofs collapsed too.

The help offered by the government was to make construction materials available at 1/2 cost. Loans were also offered at reduced rates. Only those families who had money saved could afford to start rebuilding. The average family could not afford to purchase blocks and cement and sand.

Next:  We are invited into the home of Rolando, where 12 people were living the night the tornado struck.