In a former private home across the street from Marianao Methodist Church, 15 older Cubans find assistance and companionship at a facility run by the Methodist Church in Cuba.
“This is not the storage of elders,” Susana Reyes, the home’s manager for the past 13 years, points out. “It is a house where they can live.”
The church converted the house into a home for retired pastors in 1987. Current residents include an 86-year-old retired pastor who has been there for 20 years and Delores Pérez, who served as a missionary in different parts of Cuba.
“I’m happy to praise the Lord,” Pérez says as she visits with Reyes.
“Delores is a woman of faith. She has helped us a lot spiritually,” Reyes says. “She is 83 years old and she is like a girl.”
Singing the spirit in Cuba
Special report on the Methodist Church in Cuba.
Reyes is assisted by Mauricio Freeman. Other staff, he says, include three cleaning people, three cooks, three security guards and four nurses whose salaries are paid by the government.
Each day starts with devotions at 8:30 a.m., followed by exercise led by a sport teacher three days a week. Other activities include memory games and assisting with food preparation. After lunch and a nap, the residents have prayer time and free time. The staff marks holidays and takes them on Sundays to church or to a concert.
Eight additional people come for day visits but live outside in the community. “They are alone in their houses…so they come and visit and stay for a while,” Reyes explains.
The home also provides a meal service for a few homebound elderly in the community. “The kitchen is very old, but the cook is very good,” she adds with a smile.
Repairs are completed on a step-by-step basis. In 2009, for example, volunteers improved the laundry room in the back, making it bigger and reducing humidity, which had damaged the equipment.
There is room to expand. “We have a building here that we are not able to finish because of the lack of material, but when we finish (the second floor), we will be able to have 40 people here,” Reyes notes.
Bloom is the assistant news editor for United Methodist News Service and based in New York. She and UMNS Photographer Mike DuBose visited Cuba in November. Follow her at https://twitter.com/umcscribe or contact her at 615-742-5470 or [email protected]