Hope Is in the Children

Danae Suarez

Cuban grade school.

Several days ago I was taking the bus home, and I wouldn’t be lying if I said I felt completely out of context among the passengers.

The driver was playing all types of reggaeton songs on the speaker system, and among the avalanche of youths that kept boarding the vehicle, I don’t remember having seen a single one who didn’t know, couldn’t sing or wouldn’t stop frantically dancing to each one of the songs played.

At one moment a little girl who was about six jumped off her mother’s lap and challenged another girl to a dance.  She then began making gestures and movements that in my opinion were way too erotic for such a small child.

Without the slightest pretense of puritanism, all I can say is that I felt sorry for that little girl, who’s growing up surrounded by such banal music which almost always comes accompanied by subliminal messages that will probably compel her to adopt mistaken codes in her lifestyle.

However, two days later, while I was reading the newspaper Juventude Rebelde, I found an interesting article on a literary competition for children in Cuba.

The teacher in charge of promoting this competition and fomenting creativity among the children in her care spoke firstly of understanding youth’s motivations; in this way she was attempting to stimulate a dialogue capable of educating them…of satisfying their needs and stimulating them in their contribution to the construction of a better world.  In this she used as references the teachings of two great teachers: national hero Jose Marti and Cuban theologian Felix Varela.

Cuban grade school.

“Well — finally — there was someone doing something truly serious!” was my immediate reaction, and I continued reading with interest.  My emotions peaked when at the end of the article, as a true gift, I could enjoy the actual story that won the competition.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that running down my cheeks were tears of compassion and respect in the face of such creativity, elegance and especially the depth of thought that I found in this story.

Many memories came to mind, but one of them — continuing with the theme of music — drew from the words of Aldo Rodriguez, a member of the group “Los Aldeanos,” when he affirmed in an interview in Miami last November that what Cuba truly needed was a spiritual change.

Full of optimism, I thought that perhaps that change was being engendered in our children, and that if providence helped them to grow up among fewer shortages — which apparently poison the hearts of weak souls — our future as a nation and the much yearned for spiritual change would be guaranteed.

I am requesting permission of Havana Times to publish the story that moved me and compelled me to write this article.  I hope that in the hearts of those who read it is stirred the same hope that sprouted in mine that afternoon.


by Gabriela Ortega Martin, sixth grade.

In a very distant kingdom in the middle of the forest, the strangest child that human beings had ever seen was born.

The mother?  She was a beautiful and intelligent fairy who had been seduced by the king of animals, which in that epoch was not the lion but an amusing little white rat.  It took seven days and seven nights for it to be born, and finally, when it was, the mother was surprised before that strange but tender creature.

What was so strange about the newborn?  Well, to begin with, it had a part of each animal that inhabited the universe.  Can you imagine that?  Of course…  So that’s how it was.

But the most surprising thing about that creature was that located exactly in the center of its neck was its eye, which possessed such a power that it was able to decipher all the wicked feelings that existed and convert each person who possessed them into a flat cold stone, like the ones on river bottoms.

Soon the news ran from residents to resident, and each one of them hid so as not to be seen.  The implacable eye spun around like a carrousel when the little newborn creature jumped up and ran into the mountains.

When concluding the first day of its life, hundreds of people rolled down the hill after having been turned into stones, and with them went all envy, selfishness, hypocrisy, greed, lying, insensitivity and many other defects.  At the same time, among those people who possessed some of these characteristics, one could observe blemishes and moss becoming incrusted on them.

A wave of sadness came over the kids of the kingdom, but at the same time they were surprised that none of them suffered such a misfortune.  Within a week there remained only little children, who ran around this way and that trying to discover what was happening.

One small child, who had our main character curled up in her arms, told it in a low voice, “Why did you do this?  Please, help us get our parents and families back.”

“I’d do it with pleasure, but humanity would be close to disappearing if we let everything continues like it has.  So many virtues that people once possessed no longer exist; they have been replaced by all those negative feelings,” he explained.

Soon he was surrounded by thousands of children who were listening to him attentively.  Among them was one freckled child who asked to speak and said, “I think we should give our relatives another chance.  Each one of us will take responsibility for seeing that our mothers and fathers learn the lesson.”

Without listening to anything else, our purifier closed its magic eye and where there had been stones there emerged flowers that in turn transformed into people.  When everything had ended, thrilled children were hugging their parents.  Someone then realized that our friend had risen gently onto a cloud above everyone and everything, leaving a phrase hanging in the air:

“I will always be observing you; and I too am thankful because I learned something from you: forgiveness.”

The residents of the kingdom worked tirelessly for a month building an immense monument to the one who taught them to be better, and people say that it became the most prosperous region on the whole earth.

One thought on “Hope Is in the Children

  • Hi Danae,

    I must admin that I’ve witnessed your same scenario, and I was very sadden because in this case it was my little cousin, she is only 9 now, this happened 3 years ago… she was shaking to that reggaeton like professionals of the music or lets just say other industries may do it like.

    There’s a lot wrong when kids burn stages of their life, the innocence, the learn math, spanish, english and then eventually reach that age when we start to socialize and discover things about ourselves that we ignored for most of our life, could be through music, reading and more.

    There is nothing cute in seeing children of both sexes being thrown in the path of sexuality instead of the path of learning or just being a child and enjoying those years.

    Do believe that something must be done from the higher instances, stop using this reggaeton that it’s just killing our culture, the good behavior and for sure making machismo a common issue within our society.


Comments are closed.