A Greenhouse in Cuba
His eyes bore into me. "You have no idea how live," he said. I was on a street in a small Cuban town this last December, and our guide had responded to my question about increasing American influence.
It was a day away from the cosseted life in our All Inclusive. The day tour had taken us to two towns far from the activity and clamor of Havana. In the smaller town horses and carts outnumbered the few older cars and on a short train ride the engine belched black, oily smoke. "Oil from Venezuela," the guide said. Cuban resources are limited.
If the guide had been a bit short with me earlier, he was a font of willing, and seemingly honest, information about his country. They had been devastated by the loss of support from the Soviet Union. Wages were low; equivalent to $20 - $30US a month, regardless of your job - road sweeper or surgeon, but yes, people did find ways to make more, and for him I assume it was tips. And if you wanted a car - well you had to have some kind of money coming from abroad, as even the oldest car could set you back $15000US.
This was, the guide said, a true socialist state. Everything belonged to the state. Our hotel was owned 51% by the government, and even the cows in the field belonged to them. At our resort, one of the waiters we came to know had a son with some serious problem, but the father was thrilled with the treatment he was receiving. And as a sideline to this, Cuba has a lower rate of infant mortality than Canada!
With such a very brief look into the life of Cubans I cannot make any definitive statements, but people seemed happy. There was no overt police presence. I am not sure I evensaw a policeman.
But life is going to change, and they know it. At one point in the tour, maybe as the result of my question he told us that the young look forward to the increasing American influence, but the older people do not, and clearly he, about 40, was in the latter group.
As we neared our hotel at the end of a long day he finished with a pointed comment, "I want you to know that I am a proud Cuban. We have a lot of problems that we will solve. We do not need North Americans telling us how to do it."
That is why I love PWRDF, and why I am so supportive of our Lenten project, "Food Security in Cuba". We did not go in and tell them what to do. The churches of Cuba responded to a call from the government to use their land to grow food. The Cuban Council of Churches set up training in food production and conservation, with the support of PWRDF, among others.
And now we are asked to support one parish - St. Mary the Virgin, in Itabo, giving them the means to build a greenhouse.
It's those loaves and fishes again. They brought what they had, and our response can enable them to grow far beyond what they had to start with.
For more information visit www.vancouver.anglican.ca/news/update-pwrdf-focus-during-lent
To support this please look at the table in the Narthex for ideas on how to give.