By Maggie FitzRoy
Poverty has a grip on Güira, a small town in western Cuba. The town was built around agriculture, primarily growing sugarcane for the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, ninety percent of the people lost their jobs, and the small town in the middle of nowhere was forgotten.
But not by Christ Church, which has supported El Buen Pastor (The Good Shepherd) Episcopal Church in Güira for many years. According to the Rev. Andreis Diaz, in a communist country where religion is still frowned upon, that support has been a lifeline.
There are few jobs, so people must travel to nearby towns for work. But there are also no daycare centers, so those with small children must find childcare in an environment rampaged by depression and despair. “Kids are left with neighbors in sometimes horrific conditions,” said Fr. Andreis. “With terrible poverty, alcoholism, and suicide,” he said, conditions are frequently unsanitary and unsafe.
But there is hope. A few years ago, Christ Church helped purchase a two-story house with a yard, for the purpose of building a daycare center for the town’s children. It will also provide senior citizens meals and a place to do their laundry. The property needs renovations; however, the necessary governmental permissions have been delayed by the pandemic.
Once renovations are complete, the plan is to offer daycare Monday through Friday for children ages one through five. With the support of Christ Church, services will include education, religious instruction, nutritious meals, and a safe place to play. Meals for seniors will also be provided several times a week, along with Bible classes.
“This can make a huge difference in the life of the town,” Fr. Andreis said. The center will be able to employ five people. Operating costs will be only a few thousand dollars per year, as salaries are minimal in Cuba, according to Father Andreis.
In a New Day, we pray that our gifts to Christ Church might also help improve the lives of our friends in Güira. “We will be supporting Christians who are living under suppression,” Fr. Andreis said. “It will be a great way to bear witness of the love of God for them.”