Cuban Humanitarian A: The Story of a Photo

Cuban Humanitarian A: The Story of a Photo
Fecha de publicación: 
30 May 2022
Imagen principal: 

When Duniesky Olivera Pérez's phone rang yesterday morning notifying him that his presence was needed, not even remotely could this doctor and lifeguard imagine that today he’d be news.

However, social networks have taken charge of making viral several photos in Cuba where he appears carrying a Haitian baby girl about fifteen days old in his arms.

The Story

Nearby the coasts of Caibarién, Villa Clara, on a boat with more than 840 Haitian immigrants, including 70 children —three infants— and 97 women, two of them pregnant, activated the preparations. The ship, which intended to arrive through an irregular route to the U.S., was surprised by the unfavorable conditions for navigation that took it to Cuban territorial waters, where they requested the help of the Border Guard Troops.

Four Border Guard surface units with medical personnel on board accompanied the boat in which Haitians were traveling in full overcrowding, until they disembarked at a safe point in Villa Blanca, where they received first aid, food, water and other attention, reported Máximo Luz, from CMHS Radiocaibarién.

Among the MININT officers, Public Health personnel, Red Cross rescuers, political organizations officials and other entities in the territory who received them to provide humanitarian aid was Dr. Duniesky; it was the first time he was participant in such event.

But that doesn’t mean that he is new in these matters. At 40 years old and filled with enthusiasm and without a fixed schedule, for nearly 20 years he has been a volunteer member of the Red Cross, and in particular of the GEO of Caibarién: Specialized Group in Rescue Operations.

He spoke in an exclusive for CubaSí, and adds:

«For me it was a marvelous experience because we didn’t know the conditions they came, the boat was insufficient for so many, although the boat was not small, and that baby of just 15 days old I received came on it.

"Luckily she was fine. In a first examination I saw that she was hydrated, nourished, and after that first check-up, I took her to the medical post where the pediatrician already evaluated her more carefully and, verifying that there were no problems, she was handed over to her mother to continue towards the  temporary camp".

A doctor who had finished a mission in Haiti and spoke Creole served as interpreter, but Duniesky didn’t have the opportunity to exchange with the girl's young mother, who was not in good condition and had remained inside the ship while the girl's aunt took care of the newborn.

Graduated from medical school in 2010, this specialist in General Medicine and emergency medicine assures that "it’s always shocking, especially when it comes to a child, but because of my profession I’m used to receiving cases in a delicate state of health at the ER ward in Caibarién Municipal Teaching General Hospital”.

The Best Reward

Nothing forces him to provide this help, only "the desire to help others" is his moral compass, that also made him a doctor and a lifeguard.

“It’s very gratifying to know that an action one makes helps alleviate the suffering of another person. We become greater people the more we help others», he assures without rhetorical emphasis or posture, talking with that natural manner of Cubans and like someone who speaks from common sense.

Questioned by the reporter, he replies that although he has taken part in various rescues, he has never received an award or medal.

“And I never expected one. My reward is just knowing that I was able to help someone, that this person felt relief, even if it required a lot or a little work from me. Shake his hand and making him feel helped is the best prize».

That eagerness to help was what made him not waste a second in preparing himself when he was called to enlist in case it was necessary to come to help in the rescues at the accident in the Saratoga Hotel. Finally, his participation was not necessary, but the backpack was at the ready.

Inspired by the same spirit of always being ready to help, the Sunday before the ship docked with the Haitians, the doctor had taken part in the Meteor 2022 exercise.

Also, Speleologist

To make his story even more unique, it turns out that the doctor is also a speleologist, a member of the Cuban Speleological Society, thus combining his love for others with the love for nature.

«I carry that calling together with the one I feel for Medicine. Since high school a friend of mine had me excited and I always liked caves, that possibility of being in spaces that few can reach.

“It’s very exhilarating to be there. When one is burden with work, one needs to disconnect; there’s nothing like cave diving and enjoying the tranquility.

"What about the bats? They fear us humans more than we fear them, they are often associated with something dark, and they try to kill them, they throw stones at them. But it’s we who invaded their homes, not the other way around.

Combining both vocations, the doctor-speleologist forms part of a group for rescues in cases of speleological rescues, he explains, and has set, together with other authors, a "Proposal for a medical action protocol during the rescue of injured people in the underground environment", its usefulness transcends the realm of caves.

Take Care Dad

Father of three children, two girls aged 9 and 4, and a boy a year and a half old, he tells CubaSí that one of his best drives is also the support of his family. Either the children, the wife, and the mother don’t stop always saying the same words to him: take care of yourself, but they proudly see him go on each of those rescue missions.

When he finished helping the Haitians yesterday, he also had the great prize of finding several voice messages from his children on his phone: "Take care, dad, we love you."

I ask him if he has any photos taken by himself of the event and he replies shortly: "I went to work, not to take photos or selfies."

Dr. Duniesky returned home in the early hours of the morning, back from the temporary evacuation center where Haitians continue to receive all medical and food care, while legal immigration procedures are carried out with their nation. At the same time, with this humanitarian act, the Cuban government's call to maintain regular emigration where people's lives are no longer at risk is ratified, the note from Radio Caibarién states.

“After complying with the protocols established in these cases, the group of Haitian emigrants was transferred to the camping base located in the town of Sierra Morena, belonging to the municipality of Corralillo, where they receive the necessary care, which corresponds to the Cuba's humanist and supportive calling," Miguel Ángel Fernández López, director of the Red Cross in the province, told Granma.

The first thought of the rescuer and doctor in this story had this morning was to find out how the baby, her family, and all Haitians who arrived yesterday were doing.

«Yes, I’d be happy to meet that baby I helped yesterday, to know that she grew up. I wouldn't recognize her or the other way around, but that's not important; for me it’s knowing that a few hours of my life contributed to her survival»

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