A Woman I Really Admire

By Safie M. Gonzalez

HAVANA TIMES – If there’s one person I’ve admired for a long time now, it’s my neighbor Mariana. She has a moving story and she inspired me to write this article. She is almost 70 years old and she lost her mother just two years ago, after taking care of her full-time for over 15 years, when her mother lost both of her legs to diabetes.

Mariana was a Historian and you just have to touch upon an issue that is related to this subject for her to burst with joy and get excited. But Mariana had to retire early to look after her sick mother, as her wages weren’t enough to keep the house and pay for special care for her mother, because she was now bed-ridden and needed it.

Even so, she found a way to get some part-time work. She would clean a nearby house twice a week, she washed and ironed clothes for people and that’s how she managed to make up for some basic needs, like food and cleaning products.

When her mother passed away, Mariana was diagnosed with a severe heart problem, so she mustn’t do anything too strenuous nor walk for long periods of time. However, Mariana lives alone, she didn’t have any children and that means that her survival depends on her alone. Her apartment is falling to pieces and when it rains, it is wetter inside than it is outside, but even with all of this, she still has a smile on her face and continues to fight, not only for herself, but also to help those even more in need.

She stands in long lines so she can buy food and also at the pharmacy where she isn’t even able to get a hold of the medicines she needs for her heart, most of the time.

This story of my friend and neighbor Mariana could be any Cuban’s story, but it is a lot more painful to see her live such a sacrificed life, sick and without any extra help. Her pension is insufficient for the basics and she doesn’t have any relatives living in another country to top up a card so she can buy in the government’s dollar stores. She ends up walking all over Havana a lot of the time, searching for the cheapest sales.

Knowing her story and experiencing it so close is something that makes me shudder and admire her a great deal. She doesn’t know she’s the lead of this story, that she might be just another Cuban, but I am very proud to write about her and share her with all of you who are reading me.

Read more by Safie M. Gonzalez here.

Safie M. Gonzalez

I was born in the 80's. I love nature and animals, as well as my country. I admire the sacrifice of a people. I consider myself a simple and honest person, therefore I detest injustices. I have a taste for the arts in general, but especially for literature, photography, and cinema. I believe in the power of the word and in the ability of the human being to change the world.

4 thoughts on “A Woman I Really Admire

  • Sandra, expect a reply directly from Safie.

  • I want to know if there is a way i can purchase some items for your neighbour through ComprasparaCuba online store. My friends in the mountains cannot get deliveries from this store due to the distance for shipping and COVID. But you and your neighbour are in Havana I think , so I would like to buy her some items if you could be the one deliver them to her and also for yourself .

  • Such a touching description of a reality that is all too common in Cuba. People like Mariana cannot be described as having “a standard of living.” ! They exist, but barely! All the fatuous communist theories are proven to be worthless.
    Revealing truths, as Safie M. Gonzalez does in this piece, can be painful, but we should all thank her.

  • As you so eloquently describe your neighbor, Mariana, her unfortunate circumstances in life no doubt represent the plight of the majority of Cubans in Cuba today. Without any adequate and sufficient help from the communist government, she is totally dependent on the good sacrifices of people like you, Safie, and perhaps other helpful neighbors.

    One neighbor helping another neighbor in need is what thoroughly describes the Cuban spirit. Neighbors, not any better off than the one who desperately needs help, helping neighbors demonstrates how humanity in Cuba despite the economic hardships, the trials and tribulations, the immense suffering are able to rise above the desperations, the negativity and be a positive influence for others.

    I am sure Mariana thoroughly appreciates your kindness and generosity.

    Safie, thank you for sharing Mariana’s personal story, her story when extrapolated across the island represents the story of many Cubans as you so rightly state.

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