The Hits Keep Coming
By Cuban standards, Oneida had it pretty good. Happily married to a hard working man, a healthy family, a decent and solid home atop a hill overlooking the bay in Baracoa. The views from her home could easily be mistaken for the Virgin Islands. She was able to bring in extra income by growing flowers on her mountainside property and sell them to establishments that cater to the tourism industry. Oneida is Hard of Hearing and has worked hard to overcome perceptions of her hearing loss in Cuban society.
While the winds of Hurricane Matthew funneled into the bay and literally blew every home down in the village, Oneida and her family huddled in a small concrete chicken coop while they watched their home disappear from its foundation. One of the great stories from the hurricane is how many churches turned out to help people rebuild their homes. They scrapped and found lumber and rebuild a basic shelter with the help from their congregation at the Baracoa Church.
As Oneida’s family fought their way back, in the past year her husband suffered a heart attack and passed away. The families main source of income was gone. As she tried to sell more flowers to keep her family afloat, Oneida’s mother developed dementia and she was the only remaining family member left to take care of her full time.
Hit after hit after hit.
As we asked her questions, she shared that her faith is the only thing that was able to sustain her as people from their church offered as much help as they could- considering they also were dealing with the economic realities in Baracoa post- Hurricane Matthew. Oneida shared that she has been blessed with the friendship of her Deaf friend Enisaidis, who has made it her mission to help Oneida in taking care of her mother as she deals with Dementia. Even as the demand for flowers has almost become non-existent due to Matthew, without Enisaidis, Oneidas flower business would be gone..
As is true in many families here, her son brings her hope as he is pursuing further academic education in electronics. In the meantime… in a community hit hard by the hurricane, where many people have given in to despair and committed suicide or turned to alcohol… the christian community continues to be a flicker of hope for many people who hold on to their faith to sustain them in times like these.
May 2019 Update:
We ran into Oneida during our May trip at the Baracoa Church prayer meeting. Oneida came to me excited to share that she has a new love in her life and it is helping her get out of her depression, returning joy. She has been attending deaf ministry activities more frequently since our last visit in January.