I recently had the opportunity of a lifetime, a trip to Cuba. For me one of the highlights of the trip was a chance to visit a child care center. My group walked into a beautiful old building with an open air courtyard. The sounds of music and laughter filled the air. As we walked up to the second floor the voices of children speaking in Spanish reached us. I don’t know what I expected but the only word I could think of was joy. The children and their caregivers were singing, playing and happily engaged. Each child wore a clean and pressed uniform provided by the center. The center itself was clean and well-maintained. In a country that has shortages of food and everyday necessities, the center was surprisingly well stocked. Clearly, children are a high priority in a country that has so little.
While I don’t speak Spanish and the children don’t speak English, we were still able to communicate. I took pictures of the children and showed them the camera which they all thought was hysterically funny. I brought gifts of books and art supplies so play-doh has made its way to Cuba.
The staff was so impressive. They were kind, soft-spoken and cheerful. They gently guided the children into circle time and frowned when two of the boys made guns out of their manipulatives. I guess that is universal! It was heartening to see that the children in Cuba are thriving.