Dollie Ambassador Jill Tabit recently returned from a visit to Havana, Cuba. We asked Jill to share with us her impressions, as so few of us have had the opportunity to travel to this small country which until very recently was restricted. Here is her very interesting take on the country and its people, and the joy she encountered when she handed out a few Dollies and Teddy Bears!
“Havana is a city of paradoxes. Cuba is a peaceful country where citizens have virtually no access to guns. Yet words and images of “Revolution” appear around every corner. Many city center streets are virtual ghost towns. Rusted gates and boarded windows block crumbling buildings from life’s pulsing energy, once vibrantly colorful facades show scars of neglect, evidence of glory days painfully fading away like a crippled cabaret dancer in her last days.
But in a nondescript part of the city on Hamel Street, a local artist transformed the environment with his creative expression. Salvador’s neighborhood is his canvas, his medium is paint and scrap metal. covering buildings and inspiring with poetic words of hope and possibility.
Poverty resides alongside songs and smiles, dancing and music making. Without common access to cell phones and the Internet, a stroll through the park and friendly conversation occupied many people. When I stepped off the plane In Havana from Miami, I stepped back in time. A blast of warm and humid tropical air blasted me as I descended the steps onto the tarmac and into communist territory. Ironically, 1950’s era American cars filled the parking lot making me feel as if I were on a Hollywood studio set.
I traveled with a group from Firefly Foundation, an organization dedicated to empowering children though educational opportunities. We discovered how the school facilities, playgrounds, and programs, like much of the country, suffered from neglect and disrepair.
Luckily we had bright colorful Dollies and Teddy Bears lovingly created by the ladies of “Dollies Making A Difference” to bring smiles to the faces of these beautiful children! “