Earlier this year I set the intention to travel to Cuba again. I traveled there for the first time in 2006 on my own for 6 weeks to see it through my eyes and understand it for myself. My parents, both born and raised in Cuba yet met and married in Puerto Rico left their country at different times but for the same reason, to leave a dictatorship that took away their democratic way of life. They each suffered in various ways, my mom watched her father’s business taken away from him and then forced to work within his own shop as a state employee. My father saw many of his friends, including his brother arrested for protesting their civil liberties then each one leave the country.
Growing up in Miami I heard numerous stories of devastation and sadness about a country they loved that was taken over by a man they grew to hate which led to disgust for Cuba. However, I wanted to learn about the people, the food, and the music that I grew up with in my bi-cultural home. Traveling in Cuba for the first time was an amazing and enriching experience. I vowed to return.
So, this year I stated it was time. I reached out to people and other resources but found it challenging so I turned it over to Spirit. Then in October, my birthday month, I received an email from a colleague announcing a fundraiser for an upcoming trip to Cuba. I almost fell off my chair. I immediately reached out to the organization to apply and was approved within a day.
Within two weeks I was able to raise over $1100 out of $1500 which covered my flight, lodging, and food while in Cuba. I also used monetary donations to take over 50 pounds of much needed supplies. From October 25-30 I volunteered with Cuba One, a non-profit founded by Cuban Americans, and numerous others to assist Cubans with donations of toiletries, bedding, over-the-counter medicine, and much more as they focused on recuperating from Hurricane Irma, a category 5 hurricane that battered many small communities along the coast.
Being in Cuba and helping however I could was moving and inspiring. Yet, the hope and dedication the communities had of coming together to help one another was incredible. It shows how in spite of any crisis situation the human spirit is stronger and can overcome anything. Spending those days in Cuba with a group of other like-minded individuals was one of the best birthday gifts I’ve ever received and I’m thankful to all those who helped me make it possible.
CubaOne representatives will continue to provide support and material to the Cubans after this trip. They’ll be returning in a few months to view the work we did and continue projects we started. If you can continue to assist with a monetary donation, which is tax deductible, rest assured the money will go straight to the communities that have been affected by the hurricane. Donate now by clicking here.
Explaining OTC meds to an elderly woman
Ophelia with her new bed and sheets, her bed was moldy and house almost collapsed
Helping rebuild a community center in Bolivia
Thank you for being a part of my expanding family.
Love and light,
Paty, La Mariposa, Hernández