I had read about the pediatrician who was part of the brigade of 32 healthcare professionals who traveled to Turkey on February 11th to provide medical assistance to those affected by the violent earthquake that struck that country and Syria earlier that month. It was not difficult to identify her among her companions, not only because of the affectionate and heartfelt greeting that the Cuban Minister of Health, Dr. José Ángel Portal Miranda, greeted her with, as is his custom, but also because of her youth and her excited face during the official reception of the brigade. A few minutes later, I was able to speak with her:
“An experience like this tests you in every way, the professional part, as a doctor; the human part; the physical part, it is very strong. It is a beautiful experience, but strong and grateful to have been able to participate in the mission, grateful to have been able to go to help the Turkish people who were in very bad conditions, there in the city where we arrived.”
“And it touches each one of us because it is one thing to go to work as a doctor and it is another thing to see the conditions in which these people live, the conditions in which you treat these people, often for days without medical care, since the earthquake itself, people who have lost a lot, lost family members, lost material goods. Above all, they are people with an enormous human quality, in spite of the situation in which they lived, they always showed gestures of affection, of gratitude, of humility. They gave us what little they had, often without having anything, and this was evident from the highest officials to the people with the lowest cultural level, it was shocking but really beautiful,” she added.
“Children who lived in tents, who had lost their families, children who had only one neighbor, one relative, it is hard, it is very hard. Many times I had to take care of them in tents, in their homes, people who had pitched their tents on the edge of the collapse of their homes, who had lost practically everything, it is hard, hard, hard. And the children’s part even more so when you come across these cases”.
“I had no experience outside of Cuba, my professional experience had always been in the country, and this was a school in every way, you could say, a wonderful experience, but also a school”.
“The most striking thing was the Turkish people’s knowledge of Cuba, their gratitude to the Cuban people. For them to mention Cuba, to tell them that you are a doctor, to tell them that you are a Cuban doctor, is something enormous for them. The children, the elderly, the doctors, the nurses, the health workers, everybody was very grateful to us at all times, and without their help we would not have been able to do the work, because of the language, because of the terrain. We were really able to work hand in hand with them, and I think it was partly because of this affection, this appreciation, this knowledge that they have of Cuba. They love Cuba, they love the Cuban people.
These were the words of Dr. Alemy Paret Rodríguez, a first-degree pediatrician and teacher. Unbeknownst to this journalist, she works at the Roberto Rodríguez Teaching Hospital in Morón, the city where she lives. The surprise when I arrived from Turkey was that that morning I would be interviewing a beautiful doctor of whom I already had references, but without knowing that we were compatriots. Morón in Turkey.
When asked what she planned to do, she replied with the same honesty as in the previous questions: “Rest, I need to rest, go see my family, I haven’t seen them for a month, and most of all rest, I need to rest.
Ministry of Public Health of Cuba
The Modern Poetry (La Moderna Poesía) – Morón, Cuba
People from Morón – Cuba.