By Yudelis Rodríguez
When you visit Cuba you notice one thing right away: Older people are everywhere you look. That’s understandable, we are an aging country. People walking everywhere. From the early morning to late at night, people are walking. You walk to go to work, you walk to go to school, you walk to the beach. You see mothers walking with their children, fathers returning from work, young people going out, and elderly walking. There are not many cars and only a few buses, so most of us in Matanzas City get from place to place by walking.
But walking can be tricky for older people. Whether you desire to go out and sit in the park, need to go to the doctor or to the market, walking is no easy task. Cracked sidewalks, holes and uneven pavement and surfaces make for a potentially dangerous obstacle course – one you pray you will make it through without falling.
It is easy to talk ourselves out of things when they become too difficult (or dangerous). Like scars tattooed within, you don’t easily forget a fall or injury. This is, in part, why it can be so hard for elderly people to thrive in my city. Elderly people are willing to walk, but sometimes they merely need a companion to walk with them, to extend an arm for them to hold onto.
The arm of a companion can be the difference between having a meal, seeing a doctor, or getting outdoors and having a conversation with a neighbor in the park – essentially a small act of preserving the humanity, health and dignity of some vulnerable friends. This is a sample of the work we provide in Matanzas City.
Read more about our work in Cuba in The Economist