October 24, 2021


tears of joyA group of the class of ‘61 alumni of Havana’s Sacred Heart School, was alerted by Ms. Nydia Rodriguez of her project to construct 60 homes in Santo Domingo, for the extremely poor people that lived in the area.   40 homes have already been built in the town by her and an additional 4 were constructed in the mountains sponsored by the class of ’61 and the Alumni Association of the Sacred Heart led at the time by Ms. Josefina Franca.   This benevolent project was made possible through the ILAC, an institution founded by Father Ernesto Travieso, brother of a Cuban patriot that suffered prison under the regime of Fidel Castro.   “Tommy” Travieso is married to Cecilia La Villa, a member of the ’61 Sacred Heart class.

  “Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.”
Mother Teresa

The above story, that was made available to me by my wife, their classmate, led me to a great admiration for these ladies that leave their comfortable homes to personally extend the keys of these homes needing to travel through inhospitable terrains.   Everyone of my age group has lived through a technological explosion that has greatly influenced the new generations, and so changed their way of living that we can anticipate that a new outlook and culture is being established.   Charity is a word whose Greek origin meant “love of fellow man”, and through Rome and the Christian faith was transformed to “affection, mercy and compassion”.   Charity “starts at home” changed from a traditional meaning of love and compassion is taught at the family level, to “we look to help ourselves first”.   What is the benefit derived from giving?    Is it just a matter of complying with society rules by donating to private and governmental institutions? Or is it a way of feeling a personal satisfaction with the knowledge of helping the more unfortunate among us?   This is the current ideological battle between those that feel a collective, even if represented by a minority, dictates to the rest of us what is the best way to give, when, how, and to whom, or those, like me that spouse that love, good will, and kindness, is a personal decision and responsibility.   As a member of the medical profession, I have experienced the personal rewards of helping others.   It is not a financial exchange, or even gratitude expressed, it is an undefined sensation of pleasure and satisfaction accompanied many times by “tears of joy”.   But it is more than that, is the realization of the reason for our being, a sense of “wellness” that is not realized with the current trend of instant gratification and a culture of “anything you want goes”, no matter how many new “I” toys you possess.   When reading the experiences of these ladies and gentlemen, who delivered this modest home to a population that has nothing but the mere fact of their existence; I felt also what I am sure they all did this sublime feeling of involving themselves in a true charitable event.


Fernando J. Milanes, MD