Cuba Today – A Contrast in Colors
Traveling with a small contingent of volunteer artists, we have spent the last week visiting and painting in healthcare facilities in Havana, Cuba. It is impossible to visit the island without taking notice of the beautiful architecture, lively music, and colorful art galleries. On the surface, Cuba is a palette of bright colors, but our desire to understand the culture compels us to delve deeper.
Inspired by the writings of Ernest Hemingway, it is easy to see how one could become enamored with the beautiful vistas of the coastline and the daily life in Cuba. We expected to find a country overflowing with the joys of tropical life. With visits to his home, his favorite bars in Havana, and the fishing village, Cojimar, (inspiration for the award-winning Old Man and the Sea), we sensed something much different.
Cuba is a place where hope is hard to come by. You can see it in their faces. You can sense it in their spirit. Without a doubt there is love and joy, but it is not in abundant supply. As in art, a large brushstroke can obscure beautiful details. In Havana, we sense a certain malaise. A hope forlorn fueled by the malnourishment of the soul and spirit.
Coming full circle to our mission, our purpose is to brighten the lives of the patients, medical staffs, and families. Noble, yet simple; we yearn to lift the spirits of the patients and make a lasting difference. We do it with one hug, one smile, one brushstroke at a time. As the bright colors are applied to the canvas by one of the patients, you can see a change. You can see optimism grow. The pain on their faces fades quickly. Joy is present. Color has come to their tropical paradise and it will never be the same.