Tuesday, September 15, 2009

International Children's Day, Habana, Cuba, 2008

He sits on a ledge during International Children's Day, taking a break from the festivities on his block. Just an hour or so ago, he allowed me to make his portrait formally, along with the other children from his street.

The children are running around, singing songs, watching their friends stand in front of them acting out their fantasies. Every now and then a child walks over and has his/her portrait made by me. My friends and I walk around and make spontaneous portraits of them in return.

On every block there is such a scene. On this small island, the love of children is noticeable. The streets are playgrounds for the children, with everyone watching out for the children of others. On this special day, endless effort is spent gladly for the sake of the children. They take the little that they have and spend it on balloons, decorations, cakes, cookies and so on.

This is International Children's Day and it shows.

Living in the States for over thirty years has rarely given me a glimpse of this day, in one of the most affluent nations on Earth. Walking around Cuba has taught me lessons missed over those thirty years, has taught me the value of such sharing.

Writing of such brings another story to mind. When walking around Gambia one day, Spanish is heard as a man walks by talking to two guides. I turn to my friend and ask about this stranger. My friend tells me that he is a Cuban doctor taking care of villages lacking any medical facilities.

It seems that the lessons learned during International Children's Day last a lifetime.