Tag Archives: poor

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

 

One Afternoon

A typical walk for me starts without a destination and without an agenda. At the first intersection, I decide almost subconsciously, which way to turn. I might see some interesting activity in one direction. Or, I might realize that I haven’t walked a certain street in a while. Of course, if I encounter a street that I think I haven’t been on before, I’ll choose that option.

When I’m in the right mood, I like to walk very slowly, stopping often to watch and see what is happening around me. I wonder where people are going, what they are doing, what they are buying, and what they are talking about. I want to know where they live and how they live.

Sometimes I feel badly for them, but often times I am impressed with their openness and honest good nature. People always ask about one’s family.

I make eye contact with people, hoping for a smile, a nod, a wave, or a few words.

I’m never disappointed.

These images were all made in one typical afternoon in Havana.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Cardboard

Pushing a home-made cart with used roller bearings for wheels, this man covers a lot of ground collecting cardboard for recycling. I’m sure it doesn’t pay much, but in Cuba every little bit helps.

On this day, I found him almost 3  kilometers from his home in Centro Habana. Keep in mind that many streets are not good and his cart does not roll well.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Somewhere under this pile of ropes, strings and flattened boxes is the cart he pushes daily.