By Alberto N Jones
HAVANA TIMES — Seventy seven years after taking my first breath on this day (August 29) in a hut in Banes, Oriente, Cuba, I should be a very happy man because of my relative good health and thanks to the development of the internet and social media, I have been able to receive hundreds of loving messages from family, friends, neighbors, former schoolmates and co-workers on three continents.
But I am not, because so many of my most cherished friends and family members are no longer with us and because I am overwhelmed with doubts, anxiety and grief, due to a potential failure of a project that would honor the thinking and lifework of many of them.
In the spring of 2013, like millions of men and women in this world, my wife’s life was shattered by a breast cancer diagnosis, which took her through the terrible journey of mastectomy, chemo, radiation, special bra, prosthesis, wigs, creams and more. Fortunately, she had access to good insurance/medical care, is now stable with all tests negative and learning to fight back.
While visiting our hometown in Guantanamo Cuba we confirmed, that victims of this malady in Cuba receive free diagnosis, surgery, hospitalization, chemo, radiation and follow-up free of charge but, it is near impossible to access special brad, prosthesis, wigs, creams, lymphedema arm sleeves and other important aesthetic/psychological components in the survival recovery process.
This led our organization, the Caribbean American Children Foundation to plead for help and begin gathering these items from numerous cancer support groups, hundreds of generous US citizens, Latin Americans and Caribbean emigrants especially Haitians, who opened their hearts and donated hundreds of pieces of these valuable items, some of which have already been donated to the Oncology department of the Agostino Neto Provincial Hospital in Guantanamo.
Hoping to expand this solidarity endeavor among cancer-care physicians, nurses, survivors and well-wishers in the United States, Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean, we organized a first group of 15 survivors and physicians from Florida, to visit and commemorate the World Fight Against Breast Cancer in Cuba for the upcoming month of October.
Tragically, an initial bureaucratic error by our tour operator in Cuba, failed to secure the appropriate licensing to visit educational, healthcare and cancer research facilities in Cuba, which has jeopardized the intent and outcome of this tour.
Since 1984, our small group and its predecessor CONVIVIALS has offered moral, political and material support to the ANC, SWAPO, Namibia, CISPES, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Honduras. Cuba has been the prime recipient of tons of medicine, medical equipment, hospital beds, surgical equipment, school and sport supplies, wheel chairs, physically challenged transport carts, educational and cultural exchanges, scientific conferences, books and film presentations and special projects such as CEPRU in Guantanamo, all of which confirmed the vital importance of these bridge-building activities.
Today, the United States and Cuba are in a diametrically opposed situation as they were 50 years ago, filled with rage, conflicts and deaths, thanks to thousands of anonymous men and women who believed in peace and harmony and who worked tirelessly, some paying the ultimate sacrifice for us to arrive at this day.
We believe in human solidarity, compassion, love and dignity, as it was thought to us by Reverend Lucius Walker through Pastors For Peace exemplary work in Cuba, Mexico and the Caribbean. With only 40 days to go as in biblical times, we hope to overcome this new challenge with the help of everyone, by reaching out and touching the heart of whomever, where this project is stuck, to allow us to bring a smile to the face of those who have suffered and given up so much.
Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery. On your PC or laptop, you can use the directional arrows on the keyboard to move within the gallery. On cell phones use the keys on the screen.