Sagua de Tánamo, Holguín.– The solidarity and love of those who surround them, and efforts by the state to protect its most vulnerable citizens, have created a system strong enough to soften the blows life has dealt Georyana Cruz and her daughter Elizabeth Calzadilla, who live in the neighborhood of El Sitio.
This is why Georyana doesn’t feel alone as she provides constant care for her 17 year old daughter Elizabeth, who spends most days stretched out on the sofa, watching television, although at times she is unaware of her surroundings. Ten years ago Elizabeth was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
“We are the center of a lot of attention. This house, which is still being built, used to be the Oficoda (local rations distribution office), but was later abandoned for a long time until they gave it to me to make into a home. The government gave me an 80,000 peso grant and everything I need to buy the materials.
“Now, we have three bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, dining room, living room and hallway. There is still work to be done, like finishing off a few walls, but it’ll all get done, slowly but surely. My father has helped me a lot, as have my neighbors, who Tata (Melvis Leyva Cuenca), President of the People’s Council, helped to mobilize. She visits us almost every day to see how everything is going. Elizabeth is always happy to see her.
“This house is a blessing. We used to live with my mother but Elizabeth started to suffer from allergies which caused her skin to break out in small sores and so we had to admit her to hospital. The doctors recommended we move house. I went to Tata and she immediately understood our situation and helped us with the relevant paperwork.”
Through the national social assistance system, the family received the television and refrigerator which are currently situated in the living room and dining room, respectively. They were also both given the money for frequent trips from El Sitio to Havana, to attend medical consultations with renowned specialists. Aside from these benefits the family also receives a monthly allowance granted to Georyana as a single mother responsible for taking care of her sick child.
Despite the severity of her condition, Elizabeth was able to continue studying through ninth grade. She was taught by four qualified instructors who visited her several times a week. Combining patience, kindness and their pedagogical training, Elizabeth’s teachers worked to overcome the educational difficulties caused by her illness.
Georyana explained that she is eternally grateful for all that her daughter’s teachers have done, but admits that Elizabeth feels a slight preference toward her most recent instructor, Elvia. Treated like a member of the family, Elvia would combine her classes with games in order to keep Elizabeth interested and motivated, and would help out with household chores if needed. We came to love her a great deal, states Georyana.
She went on to note that out of all the people that have helped them, she holds a special place in her thoughts for Fidel, as the man who showed the most concern for the people’s problems.
“Can you imagine what would have happened without the Revolution?” asks Georyana, emotionally recalling how much she and her daughter cried when they learned of the Cuban leader’s death while attending one of the consultations that they have never, nor will they ever, have to pay for.