This blog's title means "Cuban-hearted woman" (very loosely translated!). I settled on this name because it had a nice ring to my unschooled ear and, more importantly, because I think the Cuban people seem to have so much
heart, and they're in my heart for that reason. In general, the people I've met in Cuba are quite consistently open-hearted and big-hearted in the way they relate to each other or to visitors in their beautiful land. A piece of my heart now resides in Cuba, with the warm, wonderful friends I've made there. This blog is not intended to be a guide to Cuba, just a forum for my eclectic bits of writing – poetry, opinion pieces and information gleaned from my personal experience and reading.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What are you doing on October 17?

The United Nations has declared Oct. 17 as the "International Day for the Eradication of Poverty." For the politically correct, October could be a very busy month, especially if you're Canadian!

Here in Canada, about 19 different organizations have laid claim to October for furthering their diverse and commendable causes, nationally and internationally. As well, each and every week of the month has numerous names attached, and close to a dozen individual days are internationally noteworthy. According to the list of "Special Awareness Months/Weeks" I found on the website, May is the only month that has more going on in this regard.

Canadians can spend the month of October becoming more aware of everything from autism and brain tumors to workplace health and women's history - with breast cancer, child abuse, lupus and SIDS thrown in for good measure. There's a LOT to be aware of! And, we have a multitude of special weeks to highlight and notable days to mark on our collective calendars.

The national special-week list I found starts with "Be Kind to Animals Week" and concludes with "Waste Reduction Week." Shouldn't we be kind to animals every week? Aren't we supposed to work on reducing waste all the time? Perhaps we just need to be officially reminded now and then. Awareness is a tricky thing; sometimes it's more peripheral than it should be.

I've been aware of poverty most of my life, sometimes peripherally and, at other times, profoundly. At some points, I would have been classified as living in poverty, due to my income - or, more precisely, lack thereof. I've stretched my budget by gathering worm-ridden windfall apples from rural ditches to make applesauce and apple butter; the latter became Christmas presents that year...I cut out the wormy parts! I've collected returnable cans and beer bottles in order to buy milk and bread. I've bartered (I still do, actually). But, at present, I'm doing okay and, because of that, I'm thinking about how I can help people who aren't.

I'm already thinking about poverty eradication. I'm glad the UN is too. I hope greater global awareness of this issue will help to make a difference in our international community.

On Oct. 17, I will be in Cuba with over 40 amigas (female friends). We'll be taking clothing, toiletries and other gifts, as many other Canadians routinely do. We plan to do our best to get these items into the hands of the people who need such things the most. A friend of mine in Pilon (a larger town next to the modest resort where we'll be staying), has agreed to help connect us with the most impoverished people of that community.

I'm not sure what day we'll be able to take our gifts to these people but I hope it will be Sunday, Oct. 17. That would be most fitting. By doing whatever we can, whenever we can, wherever we can - even if it seems like dropping a penny on a beach - we are working towards eradicating poverty.

Some day, I hope poverty will no longer be an issue in Cuba, or in Canada, or anywhere else. Perhaps one day, we won't need a special day.

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