Lessons of Sacrifice

In Cuban rural classrooms there are mountains of touching and surprising experiences. They should be our morrow every September and every second of life



2016-09-05 | 16:21:42 EST
In Cuban rural classrooms there are mountains of touching and surprising experiences. They should be our morrow every September and every second of lifeIn Cuban rural classrooms there are mountains of touching and surprising experiences. They should be our morrow every September and every second of life Photo: juventud rebeldeZoom

GUISA, Granma. — «Teacher, be careful for those paths, because a black cat comes from there; it is huge, » she was warned.

Previously, she had been told about ghosts, some celestial apparition and other myths that are typical of some places in the Cuban countryside. However, Nancy Cancel Infante was not concern about those stories, and she walked toward the small school in Los Lirios, located where the world seems to be finished.

«I didn’t believe the school were so far ... I had to cross 24 flows of rivers and streams. I went walking with the backpack full of butter, food and spices to reinforce food. Of course, I didn’t see any cat. I arrived exhausted, nearly five hours after departure, with the shoes almost broken; but happy, » this teacher, who has spent more than four decades in the classroom, said.

That trip was less harsh than that in which she was lost and needed back several kilometers or that other when she was lent a mule to go part of the way and, because of the lack of practice, she ended in pain, barely able to lift her feet.

Those experiences came from the time when she was sent to the hills in Guisa during the school year, as a member of the Sierra Maestra teaching contingent. And she cannot forget all this now when she is 59 years of age, because all these enclose the virtuous essence of a profession that we should always honor and not only during the first days of September or on December 22.

During all these years, she has embroidered beautiful stories in many other schools in the Cuban mountains; but if she had to choose she would retain those she has lived at the José Ramón Vázquez Rabí school, where she is working at present, because it was precisely at this school where she received her first lessons when she was seven years old.

In this rural school of five classrooms, with a wooden ceiling dating from 1963, Nancy is beginning another school year today, and she is now a reference and mirror to her fellow teachers, who work with the method of teaching in different grades. However, it is necessary that her novel of life will be known beyond the geography of Corralillo in Granma, where she grew up and she lives now.


Tears and Fishes

Funny also beat stories among hills, like those by the Methodologist at Buey Arriba Rosel Castillo Pupo, who gave lessons at La Habanera, a very distant place in the municipality. Many years ago, while he was sleeping at night, he felt a strange noise that shook the palm fronds and the modest hut and it was approaching to his hammock amidst the dark: it was a cow!


«The fright was great, but then I learned to live with that and the moonlight that penetrated the plastic roof tiles, » he recalls.

There are other moving stories, like that by the Zone Director Nereida Sánchez Camejo, 47 years of age, who leads the workers of four schools in the region near Yao Centro in Buey Arriba.


She never forgets, for example, that for eight months when her mother was convalescent, the parents of students and even the children helped her in each household. And when the fatal day came, they gave her consolation, and encouraged her to keep fighting.


For her part, Rosa Vazquez Rosabal (55years old) has other moving stories. She said that she has been never so moved as last year, when she met close to a student of very low income who was in the sixth grade at Guillermo Gonzalez Polanco school.


«She was very fond of me because she had teaching problems, which I helped to solve. Her gratitude was extraordinary and wanted to give me something as a token of his affection; she gave me a little fish of colors within a modest knob, a gesture that brought tears to my eyes. »


And there is the testimony of her partner Maritza Perez Beltran, 46, who was hit four years ago by the nobility of 18 children whom she taught uninterruptedly from first to sixth. «One of them had disorders in language so that he learned to speak and to read almost at the same time. When he left the school together with the others I felt a tremendous empty. »




All these new and veteran teachers confessed that for several days they feel a «little bug» by the proximity of the course. And today, something is breaking inside their souls.

Nelson Castillo, for example, notes that it’s possible he became retired after July 2017, and he cannot imagine how life will be without the blessed air of the classrooms.


«The only thing I've done in life is to grow my students, sacrifice myself for that, like many other teachers. There is nothing cuter than a student of yours, from here, in these mountains, greets you anywhere in the city or country and tells you: Teacher, I'm a doctor or Teacher, I'm an engineer.”  Some do not know what it cost this we have today in our education. That did not fall from the moon, it was forged by women and men through sacrifice and it deserves to be cared until the last day. »

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