Cuba 2014 – Part 1 – Merry Christmas!

We just returned from our annual trek to Cuba, so I have a few more stories and lots of new pictures to share with those of you who have enjoyed following these blog posts about our visits to Cuba (last year’s series starts here).

I was torn between beginning this year’s series with an update on Lily (background on Lily here and her recent illness here) or finally revealing to my patient family their 2013 Christmas gift. Part of the dilemma is that the Christmas gift still isn’t quite finished yet, but I think we managed to get enough pictures to convince you that it really is a legitimate project and not just a way out of giving you all a Christmas gift this year.

For the past few years I’ve stopped sending traditional Christmas gifts to my family, opting instead to send Gifts of Hope. Things like goats, hens and roosters, fruit trees, mosquito nets and, my personal favourite, birth certificates which provide to children at risk access to essential, basic human rights. I think my family enjoys receiving the gift cards explaining these gifts as much as I enjoy giving them…we all hope that the gifts do help change the lives of those people all over the world who actually do receive the goats and nets and birth certificates.

But this past Christmas, I wanted to go one step further and provide a gift to a family we know personally in Cuba. We started the project last year and it was such a joyful success that we wanted to continue this year. Building indoor bathrooms for our various family members in this isolated village. So I sent a hand-made note to my family at Christmas, introducing them to Juan. And when we arrived in Cuba in mid-January, we started in on Juan’s bathroom right away.

There was no problem getting some of the fixtures, but we were all held up on construction by a province-wide shortage of cement. We ended up having to wait a few weeks for the cement to arrive, but as soon as Juan’s grandfather was able to get it, he was able to get the walls up in just a couple of days. Then he started to do the roof, but several days of torrential rain caused more delays. So by the time we left at the beginning of April, the bathroom still wasn’t finished, but all of the fixtures, wall tiles, flooring and roofing materials were bought and piled up and ready to go, so we’re sure that the bathroom is finished by now or pretty close to being done. So we’ll just have to make do with the pictures that I DO have.

So MERRY CHRISTMAS to my family – you know who you are…thank you for letting me substitute Juan’s bathroom in as your 2013 Christmas gift…I hope you understand how much better, brighter and merrier this gift will make this family’s lives!

This is Juan

This is Juan

This is Juan's house.

This is Juan’s house.

This is Juan's old bathroom.

This is Juan’s old bathroom.

This is Juan's grandfather Sandy, whom we've known since he was about Juan's age.

This is Juan’s grandfather Sandy, whom we’ve known since he was about Juan’s age.

This is Juan's new indoor bathroom under construction.

This is Juan’s new indoor bathroom under construction.



Once they started, the walls went up quickly.

It's looking good now! This is the last picture we got before we left. The bathroom should be finished by now, but we'll have to wait til next year to get those pictures!

It’s starting to look like something good now!

This was the last picture we were able to take before we had to return to Canada. By now, the roof should be on. We'll have to wait til next year to get pictures of the finished bathroom!

This was the last picture we were able to take before we had to return to Canada. By now, the roof should be on. We’ll have to wait til next year to get pictures of the finished bathroom!

This is LAST YEAR's finished indoor bathroom in Lily's house. It's beautiful, and very much appreciated!

This is LAST YEAR’s finished indoor bathroom in Lily’s house. It’s beautiful, and very much appreciated by everyone!

(Here is the link to the background story on Lily’s bathroom)

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2014. All rights reserved.

About Sharon

I love to write. I love to write myself into being right here right now. Writing releases something in me that needs wings, writing opens doors and windows that I often don't even realize are possible, writing helps me breathe out the dusty old, and to breathe in the new and possible. My hope is that maybe writing here in this blog will bring new light into these dusty old hallways and help me to clear out the thinking processes and mindsets that just don't work for me anymore. I seek to breathe new light and life into the nooks and crannies of a soul that has been feeling somewhat lost and frayed because of the last few patches of road I've had to travel.
This entry was posted in Cuba, family, friendships, gratitude, hope, inspiration, positive, purpose, Travel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Cuba 2014 – Part 1 – Merry Christmas!

  1. How wonderful you were able to do that!!


    • Sharon says:

      We love being able to help like this. We started another bathroom out there as well, but it’s way behind…not sure when that one will get done. We both would never have gotten to where we are now without a lot of help from a lot of people along the way…it’s our way of paying it forward.


  2. camp2go says:

    Great to see the photos and how they progressed. It is different to give and then to see the results. When we give to charities, ya never really know where they will end up.


  3. saundragoodman says:

    It amazes me that they are so good at building. I wouldn’t know what to do with those supplies!


    • Sharon says:

      Our friends there are very resourceful…you wouldn’t believe how they can turn simple everyday items that we throw out in the garbage into tools and useful household gadgets! We’ve seen deodorant sticks wired up and used as light switches (to turn ceiling lights on and off). It’s truly amazing.


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