Tag Archives: friends

Can’t Live Without Water

Whenever I visit Havana, I always set aside one whole day to visit with this wonderful family on their farm.

They live about 45 km south of Havana, near San Jose de Las Lajas.

I’m treated like one of the family now.

I sit on the porch, relax in the quiet, breathe the fresh air, converse, and reflect on how fortunate I am have these beautiful people as my friends.

 

I pass out gifts that I have brought: vitamins, poligrip, zantac, Kool-aid, underwater flashlight for the brother that spear fishes, crankshaft and piston for the motor on the bicycle, towels and soap, coffee, clothes for the two children and of course chupa chups.

I make a new list of things that I will try to bring next time: cold medicine, aspirin, and more vitamins for the children, sneakers and socks for the women, movies in Spanish,  bandaids, neosporin, a knee brace, duct tape, cell phone ….. The list goes on and on.

The women always come up with something deliciously prepared. Congri, salad, and some kind of meat. I bring the Rum, cola, orange soda and, lately, chocolate from the U.S. for dessert.

The children usually want me to read to them. I read “The Cat in the Hat” (in English and Espanol). I read the English and Melany reads the Spanish, but I always tell her that next time she will read the English.

The water on the farm comes from a well via a hand pump. This water is needed for cooking, drinking, washing clothes, bathing, and flushing the toilet.

Lately, the old well pump has been breaking down regularly. It’s an American made pump, so it’s old. The casting is cracked and broken. The parts below ground have been welded and re-welded. Everything is wired together. Just last week the pump broke for the last time.  A similar pump is impossible to obtain new and any used pump that might be found would surely have issues.

The neighbors have been donating water, but it’s 1/2 kilometer away and must be hauled  in a horse-drawn cart.

The wife of the youngest brother on this farm finally e-mailed me and told me of their troubles (apparently the men were too proud to ask for help). Sometimes it takes a woman to get things done!

I was able to transfer enough money for them to purchase a submersible pump. (although the search is still on for a suitable size, I am assured that water will be flowing by the end of the week).

Again I wish to thank my small group of friends for their generous financial support and trust in me. These are all friends who appreciate the difficult task of survival in utter poverty.

Thank you Rob, Victoria, Louise, Kate, Susan, Pamela, Tracy, and Faye.

Check out the series:

Living Off The land

https://wp.me/p4fUlX-HH

 

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:

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 success Story – Part 5

Thanks to generous support from my small group of friends, Kate, Louise, Pam, Matt, Susan, and Robert we were able to continue to support this wonderful family.

Over the past three years other necessities were purchased for this family.

We purchased three new beds and mattresses.

A new semi-automatic washing machine (no more hand-wringing the wet clothes) and paint for the walls. We have also purchased and installed new windows and doors.

The youngest girl needed to have her adenoids removed. This  entailed a costly trip to the hospital which was 60 km away and a stay of two days. The expense of such a trip for the average person is beyond their means. We were able to help.

Smiles

Tayluma has a talent for manicure. It helps her to earn a little money. Whenever I visit, I bring supplies for her.

 

 

 

 

A Success Story – Part 1

It’s time to tell this story.

Fellow travelers and friends Kate, Pam and I met Tayluma in  January 2015 in Trinidad, Cuba.

She returned my wave when we were passing by her house so we stopped and she invited us in. She proceeded to give us an earful.

Cubans can get in trouble for being too friendly with tourists, especially inviting them into their homes, so it was a shock when she unloaded on us.

She was upset and crying, but fighting for her children. ” I don’t care who knows. My children should not have to live like this.”

She showed us everything:

Leaking roof

A toilet and a hole in the ground for a bathroom.

Empty refrigerator

Electric bill in arrears

The two girls were sleeping in one bed, feet to feet, with clothes piled up to make the mattress long enough.

Kitchen that was not sanitary.

Bad Wiring

Storing water to “flush” the toilet.

The children were precious. Well behaved, quiet, and intelligent.

I shed tears as we walked away and vowed to try to help.

The next day we returned with a fellow traveler to translate for us.

I brought a bag of bread and cookies that I was able to sneak out of the hotel breakfast buffet.

We photographed and listen to her story:

Her husband moved them into this house to take care of his dying uncle. When the uncle passed, the husband left town and Tayluma was left alone with her two girls and the house.

The immediate concern was the electric bill and a roof that leaked for about half the length of the house.

The problem was that our tour was leaving the next day.

We left her with money for the electricity and food.

I was able to establish e-mail contact with Tayluma. It was a dial-up connection and not very reliable and she had to walk to the internet business, rent a computer one for one cuc/ hr. and learn how to use it. Finally she emailed me. It was her lifeline.

I got all her information and set her with up an AIS debit card account.  We were then able to transfer money to her. At least we could keep the lights on and food in the house.

Part two – We repair the roof.    https://wp.me/p4fUlX-W9

 

Libetsy

Libetsy is a precocious three-year old. She is the daughter of Yoel’s brother Tatico and his wife Aymara and live on the family farm outside of San Jose de Las Lajas.

  https://wp.me/p4fUlX-HH

On my last visit I brought for her an old trac phone. It does not function as a phone in Cuba, but it does hold music and games. Now she wouldn’t have to play with her father’s phone.

It also has a camera!

Didn’t she feel special taking photos of everyone!

She will steal your heart.

Romnis – Diez de Octubre

My new friend Romnis –  https://wp.me/p4fUlX-Tt – met me outside my casa and we set off for the Havana neighborhood “Diez de Octubre”. It was too far away to walk so Romnis waved down a taxi. Not a taxi in the usual sense. This was a Cuban taxi. The drivers own these old American cars and drive a certain route all day, much like a bus route. You pay a set price for the ride and tell the driver where you would like to get out. The price was 10 Cuban pesos (about 45 cents) each for the ride west and another 10 pesos each for the next ride to the south.

We have traveled many times since that day to photograph where tourists never go.