I have dear people in Matanzas, meat of my meat. We talk several times a day and they tell me about the situation, what they know from social networks and calls from some friends. At the beginning of the current outbreak in that province, they told me that there was a shortage of medicines there and they told me that for a duralgina to lower the fever, there were people who asked a lot of money.
There are no drugs in Havana either. I have friends who have started antibiotic treatment without the amount needed to finish the cycle. The true solidarity help, that hand in hand, has allowed them to start it with “three that so and and so gave me”, “four that Esperancita gave me …”, “and these that a charitable soul donated to me through WhatsApp”, and thus they hope to continue until reaching as many days as possible.
But I go back to Matanzas, to that city and to that family that make me feel at home. Today they live in fear, with an alarming fear that paralyzes them, a greater fear that Cubans are already used to, and that is visceral, an endearing and hated part of ourselves. They have already been vaccinated with the three doses of Abdala, but they are scared to go outside. They fear the virus, also the irresponsibility of some people who, so close to danger, walk in the street with a collar mask; But they fear, above all, the shortage of medicines in the hospitals themselves, the poor hygiene conditions in the places of isolation. In short, the fears and fears that accompany us all.
Perhaps for these and other reasons told first-hand, the gestures of solidarity that many people have expressed towards the people of Matanzas move me to tears. I recently sent my family some of the very few medications that I have at home, some of them expired. Through social networks, I contacted a group of young people who, from a house in Vedado, are in charge of collecting help to send to Matanzas. Late at night, a boy (almost a boy), cycled to my house so that the medications could be included in a trip scheduled for the next day. When the medicines reached their destination, I still don’t know the faces or names of those young people. But I have known that these actions multiply. It is that genetic solidarity that accompanies us and that does not need slogans or ideologies to be present when it is most needed.
To speak of initiatives of this type, the example of the one promoted by the Daughters of Charity can illustrate the response of the many Havanans who have known how to share what little they have. Many have even decided to keep little or nothing to give more, to share and help.
Sister Nadieska Almeida is one of the sisters who, together with laypeople, men and women religious and priests of the archdiocese, began to collect aid through social networks. After the first delivery of it was made in Matanzas, Palabra Nueva spoke with her.
When did you start collecting the aid and how was this request received?
“It began to take shape in the heart when many began to say: ‘We need help … #SOSMatanzas.’ On Saturday, July 10, I was praying and I felt very restless, the situation in Matanzas came to my mind… A lay woman who loves us very much wrote to me and asked: “What are we going to do?” There I clearly felt that I already had the answer. I said, “We will do something.” And this is how this humble initiative arose, which has unleashed a beautiful manifestation of the values that we preserve and that I enjoy every day when receiving people who are coming to deliver something ”.
Many identify it as an initiative of the Daughters of Charity and not of the Church. What to say to those people?
“I believe that I cannot detach myself as a Daughter of Charity without feeling like a daughter of the Church. The initiative was born from the Church because that is who we are, and each baptized person, wherever he is, it is the Church that carries him in his person. I said at the beginning that the push I needed was given to me by a lay woman, daughter of the Church, and this has been joined by bishops, religious, members of Cáritas Habana and Cuba, priests, lay people … I can only say how my founder Santa Luisa taught me de Marillac: ‘We have doubly the happiness of being daughters of the Church, through baptism and through consecration…’ ”.
We Cubans don’t have much to give today. We all suffer from significant material deficiencies. In this sense, what has been the response of the people, of the simple people?
“The response has been generous. I have cried when I saw people bring a pound of peas, twenty Cuban pesos, a little soap, a blister of medicines started… I have seen hearts giving each other; I have witnessed very noble people, non-believers saying: “I also want to give something … would you receive it?” And this has allowed a real dialogue, a sharing of different views. I believe that the sensitivity of our people is still something that we cannot lose. I have received so many signs of brotherhood, of generosity, when people know that there is someone suffering and that what they confidently deliver will reach its destination, then hearts are undressed, words are unnecessary, the heart understands … And the most insignificant here it becomes essential ”.
What has been the strategy followed so that the aid reaches those in need?
“We live in times when we are all in need, some more, others less, of course. The strategy has been a network of people from the Matanzas province itself, through my sisters, with the full knowledge and support of the bishop and committed laity and priests. There are doctors who know isolation centers well and have guided us, and they have also taken responsibility for ensuring that what is necessary reaches hospitals or patients’ families ”.
What does this gesture leave as a teaching in the midst of the difficult reality of Cuba?
“The first teaching, for me, is that love continues to be creative (Saint Vincent); that we cannot stay with our arms crossed, that we cannot perhaps offer much, because we do not have it, it is true. But yes, the little thing, when shared, multiplies. That is the miracle: each one contributing something… we all contribute a lot.
“The second, that this people is generous, that we have it by nature, by blessing and that we cannot renounce something that identifies us.
Third, that together it is easier to do. It is not about who comes first, but about how we can achieve more together, welcoming us, encouraging us … I want to end by thanking all those who continue to bet for the good, those who go to look for things because those who offer them are elderly and not they can leave their houses. I will not tire of THANKING for what I learn every day from so many good people, thank you and God bless you all
I go back to the beginning. I have loved ones, very dear ones, in Matanzas; flesh of my flesh; people with alarming pathologies, careful, disciplined beings, human people to the core. But they are afraid. And is there someone who is not afraid today in Cuba? The most recent days of our history strive to show us, through contagions, disappearances, queues … what we really need to grow as a country: more humanism, more freedom, more respect and more love … Only in this way, and without a pandemic and without fear, a new day will dawn for each one of us. Ω