Meet some Interesting Characters
We visited the homes of several more Deaf members in the Baracoa community and had a good time getting to know them. Let me introduce you to some and share their stories.
Dalmacio is a laid back guy that lives with his sister in Baracoa. He has inherited mid-sized family farm nearby and grows crops to sell in town. As with most older deaf cubans, he did not participate in the educational system simply because no interpreters were provided. He picked up what he knows from interacting with others, and finally learned Cuban Sign Language after getting involved in a Deaf Ministry at the local Pentecostal Church.
Coming from a family that includes 5 deaf/HH members, Adrian, Adriannis (brothers) and YanCarlos (HH Cousin) enjoy better communication within the family than most. Adriannis deals with low vision issues, and the lack of resources caused a 3 year delay in his education. How would you like to be a 19 yr. old High School Sophomore when your 20 yr old brother already graduated? These boys are lucky enough to have some communication access provided at their school, as Adrian and YanCarlos are currently receiving training from the local deaf ministry in Theology and become Deaf Ministry leaders serving the Deaf.
What can I say about Manuel? The moment we were invited into his home, He and I hit it off! He is a storyteller, and what he shared would be too much to print here. Manuel is one of the unique older deaf people who was blessed with a mother who valued the importance of education, and Manuel’s deafness did not deter her. The family situation was such that they did better than many, so his mother hired a private teacher to provide an education for Manuel that he could not receive at the Government schools because they did not provide communication access. Manuel learned to speak somewhat clearly, is able to read and communicate well in sign language. He is 69 years old, and as he tells it- he spent a career in construction, was a boozer and womanizer. 19 years ago, someone from the deaf ministry shared the good news with him and he had a powerful change of heart. The impact was so strong that he has been serving God faithfully for the last 19 years and has been trained as an evangelist with the deaf ministry. You can tell he was born for this. He LOVES visiting deaf people and sharing the good news. He is involved in teaching at churches. He travels everywhere and talks to everyone in a way he only can. He asked if he could get on the plane with me back to the US so he can meet all the wonderful Deaf people in America!
Arizandra is Manuel’s cousin who lives just across the street from him. She is self employed as a nail beautician (manicurist) out of her home, has a young son living with her who keeps her very busy. Manuel has been trying to convince her to get back to church, but she says her nail business and son keep her too busy to attend at this time, but is trying…
Remember that in Cuba, those who have money to afford to get their nails done typically have some form of employment. As most work during the week, people are available for things like manicures on weekends. Hence, Saturday and Sundays keeping Arizandra busy…
I have found in these visits with the deaf in Baracoa… a community that needs each other and it all originates with the deaf ministries at certain churches. If it was not for these ministries and all the volunteers that are part of it… many will be dealing with extreme isolation and feelings that nobody cares about them. Thankfully, they are able to get together and give each other hope that despite all the hardships they face, they are able to endure and have some semblence of joy in their lives.