Winning people’s hearts…and smiles

Winning people’s hearts…and smiles
Fecha de publicación: 
4 September 2023
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San Miguel de los Baños was a very popular, crowded place. The regrettably crumbling architecture cannot disguise the beauty of the time where this place was a thriving tourist area, especially thanks to its healing waters.

It is located far from the city of Matanzas and the municipal seat of Jovellanos, where this Popular Council belongs. San Miguel may have lost, indeed, most of its once-appealing look, but never the people’s sense of belonging and kindness.

To reach that spot, you need to alter the course about 5 miles from the Central Highway from the town of Coliseo. When the Jeep borrowed by the Army Unit located in San Miguel, we picked the audio given by the Culture House of this community, which is responsible of a Hall located in San Miguel de los Baños. There, its director told us they are supporting the newly created Socio-Cultural Project and they aim to officially present it before the City Government of the Municipality in September: “The goal is to having a professional instructor, with a salary and other commodities. As of now, a lot of effort has been required from a group of coordinators who do not even belong to the culture sector.”

The reason behind our trip to San Miguel de los Baños was not its healing waters, but the initiative of a married couple: teacher Mayelin and Edisbel Chill, proud son of San Miguel, of creating a Socio-Cultural Project named: “Sol naciente. Conquistando corazones.”

Dancing is like dreaming with your feet

I do not know if they have heard about Sabina’s song, but this phrase perfectly illustrates their reasons to undertake this project, in very tough times:

“I am encouraged to see children dancing and fulfilling their dreams. They are talented, but unfortunately most of them cannot develop it due to geographical fatalism. We hope to keep developing and our greatest desire is to see them happy while trying, at least, to do what they love,” said Edisbel.

His wife, Mayelin, figures it out to organize all the work when they are in rehearsals and “have the household chores ready, which I do together with my husband, both at home and the project. It is exhausting sometimes. But I do it with all my love because I love working with kids and I feel really proud of what we are doing. Kids have fun. They enjoy all these. And that makes me very happy.”

Just when you thought that everything already had a price, you find out that this group of passionate people where moms guarantee food to the man responsible of the audio. They secure the clothing. Neighbors or officers from the Army Unit put their transportation to the service of all. Nothing is perfect, but when you do your best, things usually work amazingly, even without any budget.

That is why professor María Elvira Carmenate, an icon of socio-cultural work in the province of Matanzas, has joined this endeavor:

"I joined because I believe that projects like this are necessary so that children can receive education from another perspective. The project gives me life. This is what I love to do and my real salary is every time I see these children meet our expectations; when I see their personalities changes for the better.”

Then she adds: “The project is essential as we live in a distant spot, experiencing the same tough situations as the rest of the people. Perhaps tougher since the municipal seat is quite distant from us. Kids do not have the necessary entertainment alternatives. Well, this is the way we have found for them to be happier. And so they can hang out, learn, and know other places as they are invited to perform in other towns. This is the way we found to make happy the kids in San Miguel de los Baños.”

San Miguel is no longer what it was once. But these kids frighten away the sadness of time past. They sing and dance as if the small Cultural Center were that magical door to a dreamed world. Meanwhile, Celia smiles at the back of the stage. Her presence inspires and blesses them all.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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