Freedom. Jesús Rodriguez Lopez left his native Cuba to find it. “I left Cuba first, for freedom. And second, because I was starving,” he says. Jesús was a dentist and an oral surgeon. “Sometimes my paycheck was $1.50/month. Things are expensive in Cuba. I couldn’t afford to feed my family.”
Jesús went to Ecuador to earn money to support his family, but when he tried to return to Cuba, he was not allowed to enter. “They told me I was a traitor,” he said. “I haven’t seen my family in 10 years.”
In 2005, Jesús made his way to La Posada Providencia, where he stayed for more than six months. “They helped me in many ways. I am so grateful,” he said. “It is so important to have safe shelter. They took me to all the places I needed to go – the Social Security office, immigration, the lawyer’s office. They helped with all the processing and the translating.” Jesús expressed particular gratitude for Sister Thérèse Cunningham, SHSp, La Posada’s client mentor, who teaches English as a Second Language.
Since leaving La Posada, Jesús earned a certificate to become a truck driver, but his ultimate goal is to return to dentistry. His next step is to find a part-time job so that he can have 5 – 6 hours available each day to study to become a dental hygienist. After that, he will begin his studies to become a dentist again. “He is a hard worker,” said Program Director Margaret Mertens, CDP. “I know he will succeed.”
“I am a free man now,” Jesús says. “I feel free to do what I want without worrying that someone is watching me. In Cuba, they can put you in jail for anything you say or do. In Cuba, there are no freedoms. Here I have the freedom to have one job, two jobs, whatever I need to do to get what I need.
“Freedom has no price.”