Barbara Morris, a Volunteer Team Leader, provides a glimpse into her work supporting and enabling her team of volunteers in Cuba.
Bright and early, our gardeners, clad in hats, sunscreen, and gloves headed out with their host to work in the garden. Kind of like sending kids off to their first day of school! Next the “maintenance” crew, including Phil, headed off to work on a sanding and painting project at the Community Center. Lastly, the sewing and English teachers headed out for their work assignments. Sounds complicated, huh? The whole schedule had my head swimming, until I reminded myself that these are adults, not kindergarteners! Each of my team of volunteers was graciously picked up and escorted by a local community leader. What a difference the intense involvement of the community makes.
After visiting with the sewing circle (I could have stayed there all day!), I had to resume my team leader duties: getting lunch orders, scouting our dinner restaurant, getting dinner orders….you get the idea. Suddenly it was time for lunch, and by some magic all the team converged on the Community Center. Joined by many of our community partners, we enjoyed a simple, but filling lunch and had a short meeting (how’s it going? What’s for dinner? Oh, the schedule has changed).
Instead of returning to the hotel for our afternoon break, the team of volunteers headed to the silver factory, where the artists make all manner of jewelry and art from old silverware. Well, so, ok, I couldn’t resist, and we will come home with a couple of pieces. At dinner, we were served in our own private room. The meal was delicious and combined with the best rice and beans we’ve had, as well as papaya and pineapple, it was very filling.
Our evening assignment was 2 hours of conversational English tutoring. Suddenly the Community Center was filled with 30 laughing, shouting Cubans of all ages, from 6 to 60-plus. It was noisy and chaotic, frustrating and claustrophobic for some, deeply satisfying for others. Just when I was wondering how much we had accomplished with our challenging 6- and 7-year-olds, little Nathan came over to give me a kiss on the cheek, and said “until tomorrow”.
With love from Cuba, Barbara.