With Laughter and Affection

Alfredo Fernandez Rodriguez

As mediocrity and deterioration become the norm in all settings and institutions of the country, there exist people who say “that’s enough.”  With humanism, free of indolence and apathy, they carry out work that -if only because of the conditions and the time in which it is performed- is more than enough to be admired.

This is the case of the Health and Recreation Project at the Dr. Santiago Ramón y Cajal Senior Citizens Center, which is run by the Office of the Historian of the City of Old Havana”.

The initiative is emerging as a counterbalance of humanism and love against the disillusion of many of the elderly, those who devoted the best years of their lives to the construction of a society that has today transformed them into its most vulnerable population.  At the same time it’s giving hope to the population of the country, which in a few years will be the tenth oldest on the planet, though it is a nation that generally lacks an older people’s culture.

The elderly in this center, one of several such facilities in the municipality, spend their mornings with laughter and affection assisted by a superlatively professional staff that receives them with breakfast, and who at mid-morning leads them in aerobics that prevent pain and extend their lives.

All this flows from the understanding of health experts who demonstrate passion in their work, despite insufficient wages and the difficulty of the tasks stemming from the occasional absence of necessary supplies.

The members of the care-giving initiative at this senior center in Old Havana remind me of Jorge Luis Borges in his poem “Los Justos,” when he said:

“…those people, who are ignored, are saving the world.”