VIÑALES, Pinar del Río.— It had started to get dark and they were coming home, like every afternoon, from soccer class. It was Friday and they were likely making plans for the weekend when, very close to the sidewalk, on a pile of balusters from a half-built house, two objects caught their attention.
The first was a map and on top of it, a wallet with lots, and lots of money.
“When we opened it and saw what was inside, we ran to my house and asked my mother what we should do with it,” recalls Maikol Eduardo Rodríguez Correa (11 years old), who of the three children lived closest to the discovery spot.
After checking inside the wallet and noting that in total it contained thirty-three 100 euro bills, a plane ticket, a document that looked like a driver’s license, and the passport of a German national, his parents’ response was categorical: everything had to be returned to the owner.
“We sat the three of them down in the living room and began to talk with them about all the values that should be instilled at home and in school, selflessness, modesty, humility,” explains Maikol’s father, Eddy Rodríguez.
“We also explained that the wallet belonged to someone who was just passing through our country, and that surely he was desperate, without money, without his documents, so we had to hand it in, and all three understood,” adds Maikol’s mother, Sandra Correa.
First, she accompanied the three children to the local immigration office, but as it was already late, there was no official there to speak to. The security guard suggested they go to the local police station.
“The officer on duty took a statement, and kept the wallet to locate the tourist. When we returned home, we explained to the parents of the other children what had happened, and they agreed that we were right to have acted as we did,” says Sandra.
The next day, she returned to the police station to meet the man who, with tears in his eyes, was still not over the shock of recovering his belongings.
“He was very emotional, and told me in English that he couldn’t explain how he felt, that it was incredible that children of that age had found such a large amount of money and decided to give it back.
“When he left the police station, he asked for our address and came to the house to meet the children. He told us that he would have liked to spend more time with them, but that he had to go.
“Alongside him was his family. His daughter, who didn’t speak Spanish either, expressed her gratitude for the gesture in English, and for the way in which we have raised our children,” Sandra adds.
Unfortunately, no photos were taken during the meeting, nor was there any exchange of addresses or emails to allow us to contact this German tourist and discover his version of events, but police in Viñales confirmed that it all occurred just as Eddy, Sandra and the children told us.
Several days later, on thinking about what happened, the family from Pinar del Río continues to believe that they acted correctly.
“There are people who criticize us, and tell us that we should have taken that money, but we don’t regret it at all.
“We come from a modest family, but with a lot of dignity, and those are the values we pass on to our children.”
Lesniel Alejandro Ramos Machín and Adrián Bosmenier León, the other two children who, together with Maikol, found the wallet, are also certain they did the right thing, and although, just like anyone else, there are many material things they would like to have, they note “You don’t touch what isn’t yours.”
All three children are in the sixth grade at the Eduardo García Delgado School in Viñales, and after school they play soccer at the local stadium. For now, their biggest dream is to one day become great athletes, although they may well change their minds over time. Whichever path they take in the future, these children who found a wallet containing 3,300 euros and returned it, will surely grow up to be good men.