I’m in Cuba. It’s my second trip. Yes, I plan to return. I think I’m helping people who need help.
In the smaller cities, out of the limelight, away from Havana, they don’t have good, clean water to drink. The pipes were put in a hundred years ago. Some are older than that. When they break, no one comes back to repair them. There are a lot of broken pipes in Cuba.
Their drinking water is contaminated. It is brown, it shines with chemicals. Dead bugs float on top.
I go to Cuba because I can help build a water filtration system so the children and their parents can drink clean cold water out of a faucet, like we do here in the United States.
So, let me tell you about this trip. And the good people I met. They laugh, they smile, they do the best they can. Their life is not easy. They have a million questions about the USA and I have another million questions about their country.
We stay with a Dentist. She rents her place out as a bed and breakfast. She works all day, pulling teeth, filling cavities, getting rid of toothaches. The government pays her about $30 a month, She’s got a good job, she’s a dentist. She would get the same pay if she worked as a clerk in a store. She rents her house out to help make ends meet.
The man who comes down to the church, he’s going to run the system after we leave. He’s not a big man, dark hair, piercing eyes, always asking another question. He’s an engineer. Another well-educated Cuban, where the literacy rate is over 90%. He’s also paid about $30 a month by the government.
We met another engineer, he drives a cab. He and his family can’t live on $30 a month either.
We stay at the church. They converted some of the classrooms into hotel rooms. They cook our breakfast for us. And serve dinner in the evening. They rent the rooms to tourists and missionaries. The church members have no money to pay the preacher, the light bill or what it costs to keep the front door open. So they volunteer and run the bed and breakfast to keep the church alive.
When we get the water system installed, we have a big party. Everyone in the neighborhood is invited. There’s a hundred people there. It’s a big event for the little church.
There’s a guy standing over in the corner. He’s not a member of the church. They had to invite him. They had to tell someone, somewhere, there was going to be a big crowd at the church and it wasn’t a worship day. He’s watching all of us. I’m told he’s a member of “the party.” He’s there to make sure we’re not planning another revolution.
We were told not to discuss politics. “You never know who you are talking to down there.”
Back to the church.
We bow our heads, give our thanks and thank God for the opportunity to help. Even the kids are silent. Now they know the good taste of fresh, clean water. And, they can drink all they want, thanks to some Americans.
We bring them medicines, band-aids, t-shirts, underwear, toys and coloring books for the kids, flash-lights, double A batteries, the sort of stuff you get from the Dollar General and the Dollar Tree stores back home. We were there for a week, yet the eight of us all brought two suitcases and a carry on, filled with treasures for these grateful people. They stand there with tears in their eyes, trying to say thank you again and again.
Then, they hug us tightly, they do not want us to leave. They grab our hands and shake them with both of theirs. We have to go. More tears.
Now, I know I’m helping some people who need help.
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