I Need Covid-19 to Leave and for My Mom to Return

By Ammi

HAVANA TIMES – Camila is six years old. She doesn’t know how to express the way her life has changed during lockdown. Her mother has had to make important changes. It isn’t only a matter of waking up at 4 AM in order to get a spot in line at the store to buy food.

No, money’s run out now. Alina, her mother, no longer has a crafts stand at a market in Old Havana like she used to.

The business closed down as soon as Havana declared a lockdown in March.

Camila watches her mother leave every morning and doesn’t know where she’s going. All she knows that is that she won’t be there to dress her to take her to school. That she will return late at night and won’t be able to see her awake.

Children as heroes

Camila is a living example of these Cuban children who are heroes, who are forced to readjust their everyday lives. She has suffered depression at her young age, as all of her daily habits have changed. Her mother is no longer the owner of her own business, now she looks after an elderly woman to make ends meet. These changes can be seen in her daughter’s constant crying, her intolerance and lack of concentration.

“I want to go to school and see my friends,” the girl says, revealing an adult’s fear and concern.

According to her parents, there have been changes in her sleeping patterns and eating habits. Her concentration level has dropped. She just looks at the clock to see how much time is left until her mother comes home.

Both of her parents know that this situation will last a little longer. They wonder how they can reduce the crisis that could ensue after the pandemic ends. Meanwhile, every night Camila looks up at the ceiling and with a deep sigh. She asks for the virus to go away and for her mummy to come back home.   

Read more diary posts from Ammi


I’m a mother of four children who through perseverance, studies and improvement managed to improve her environment and I have learned that every effort is rewarded and knowledge is shared. For me there is nothing more important than freedom and especially that which is capable of breaking personal limits. I am considered a cheerful, enthusiastic, curious person, willing to learn from each new experience.

2 thoughts on “I Need Covid-19 to Leave and for My Mom to Return

  • Stephen appears to be a touch confused by Covid 19. “what seems to be a perpetual pandemic in the minds of some people” and “let’s hope this perilous pandemic comes to an abrupt end soon”.

    The desire for a return to ‘normality’ is commonplace, but will not occur overnight or even within a few months. Two or three years is a greater probability. To consider a shorter period possible is but wishful thinking.

    Those of us who have the good fortune to hold Canadian citizenship, tend to extol the virtues of Canada. But, Canada has its full share of poverty and children in some of the more northern native reserves do plenty of suffering – not everything is virtuous.

    Cuba has in general done a good job of containing Covid 19. The statistics compared with those of other countries including Canada, substantiate that. The difficulty is that Covid has exacerbated existing long term problems inherit in the Stalinist form of communism. Stephen poses a question: “Where is the government with perhaps some form of temporary subsidies, some temporary relief”? The answer is that the Cuban regime totters along a perilous economic path and just does not have the resources required.

    As for the claims Stephen mentions, that children in Cuba are a national priority, a walk through any Cuban urban community will provide evidence that such claims are bogus. The State’s priority is to get those children into a creche and later school, to indoctrinate them – that is the declared purpose in the Constitution. Saying that is not to belittle Cuban educational standards, provided by some excellent teachers, but to record fact. The indoctrination continues throughout further and higher education with for example, and as previously mentioned, compulsory classes in Marx/Engels/Lenin for all medical students.

    In defence of the educational system, it is correct that school students are provided with a free lunch – a single sandwich and a glass of yoghurt, and for many, that is the largest meal of the day. But that is only provided on school days.

    Having now returned to school, classes have been divided to enable social distancing and necessitating teachers having to provide the same lesson up to four times per day.

  • Certainly a sad situation this six year old girl – Camila – must endure. Not to diminish the severity of this particular scenario, children worldwide are bearing the brunt of this what seems to be a perpetual pandemic in the minds of some people, certainly children. Parents are overwhelmed with the new reality particularly now as children get ready to enter schools.

    It is significantly difficult for this Cuban family whose mother needs to rise at the crack of daylight to stand in a long line, under unbearable scorching hot sun, for hours on end to obtain food sustenance for her daughter and family. This hardship scenario is something most other families in the world do not experience, during a pandemic, or otherwise.

    To add insult to injury Camila’s mother lost her financial life line, her job, her business, through no fault of her own. Now, no money is coming into the household except for probably a few pesos looking after an elderly person. Again, more agony for the family as potential resources, such as perhaps a simple toy – a doll maybe to brighten her day, alleviate her depression – is no longer a realistic reality any time soon.

    In most other countries, I speak for Canada, the Canadian government has all kinds of financial help for exactly people like Camila’s family. No child needs to suffer. There is a pandemic that is causing tremendous havoc with people’s financial, physical, and psychological well being. The measure of good government whether it is capitalist, communist, socialist or anything in between, anywhere in the world, is its compassion and care of its most vulnerable citizens, children, in times of national crisis.

    Specifically now, in a time of a national pandemic health crisis such as the one we are all experiencing worldwide it is incumbent on all national government’s to alleviate the obvious suffering some of its citizens, particularly vulnerable children like Camila in Cuba face.

    One would think in Cuba today where it says (propaganda?) its children are a national priority and that its national policies towards them is to be emulated world wide leaves the reader of this article in a puzzled wonderment. Where is the government with perhaps some temporary subsidies, some temporary relief, to help families who have lost all source of income through no fault of their own?

    Whenever a cyclone devastates parts of the island, all Cuban resources available are utilized to alleviate suffering. That’s a good commendable thing. What about now in a national Cuban health crisis?

    This six year old child and no doubt many more like her through out the island are undergoing tremendous psychological pain, depression as mentioned, and no doubt, physical pain brought about by lack of proper nutrition as the family has no substantial money to feed itself. Should government help not be paramount?

    For Camila’s sake and all the other Cuban children in her unfortunate situation let’s hope this perilous pandemic comes to an abrupt end soon so that her mother can go back to her business, back to some normalcy, and Camila can join her friends at school and be a normal six year old again.

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