They’re quieter than usual. They seem focused, it’s the last minutes of a time in your lives you won’t forget. The queue for the air office is moving fast. Malpensa airport in Milan is not operating to the fullest of its capacity, and the flight, although it carries some ordinary passengers, is destined for them. When we cross, they greet me, and then I warn the smile in their eyes. It’s complicity. They know I know.
Yes, there are mixed feelings.
For Dr. Fernando Graso Leyva-specialist in intensive medicine and emergencies — 28 years old, this was his first internationalist mission. I look at him and understand that he has things to say: ” Italy leaves us a lot: its hospitality, the memory of the beautiful people we met, but above all leaves us a deep feeling of humanity.
He has shown us that there are good people, with firm ideals, around the world; we have encountered excellent professionals, and the simple people of the village. For me that I’m young, it’s been an extraordinary experience I could talk to you about for days, and it will mark my life. There will be a before and after, for the doctors we were here and for Cuban medicine. Because we arrived at a place in the First World where all technology existed, all the diagnostic means, and we knew how to arrive with our knowledge and get together with Italian doctors. It’s something that was recognized by themselves “.
Although I’m not supposed to ask this when a mission is about to conclude, I wanted to know how much this first solidarity adventure had been in it, would you be willing to fulfill other missions? “Yes”-he replied immediately. ” I think this was just the start, I’ll go wherever it’s useful, same outside as inside the country. You can always count on me “.
Your opinion is not the result of age, or your little international experience. At the other end of the rope is wise Leonardo Fernández, with six missions behind his back, and 67 years of life. When I ask how he will remember Italy, his answer is immediate: ” To Italy? With love. I’ve only met two villages so grateful: Pakistani, remember?, who fired us with so much love, and Italian. I think there was a fruitful exchange of knowledge, learning by us of technology, and the contribution we gave in the human, which they received well. I return very satisfied, and as long as I have strength and life, and call me, there I will be “.
Finally, everyone has dispatched and we moved to the waiting room, where the final recognition will be done. The living room is ours. Some rows of chairs are removed and Cuban brigadists stand in front of the crystals that separate us from the track. They hold the flags of Cuba and Italy, and the banner of the brigade. On one hand, Italians deploy their Friendship banner, which is almost as many years old as the Cuban Revolution.
There’s Irma Dioli, the president of the Association. From the other, there are Cubans who live here, including the painter Ascanio, who brings a special gift for those who return: a painting of his allegorical to Cuban collaboration. I read the comments of those emigrades on my profile when I write about Cuban nurses and doctors of Cream, in Lombardy, or Turin, in Piedmont. I think these brigades make us feel in a special way the pride of being Cubans, everyone, wherever we live.
Right in front of the glass are Alan Cristian Rizzi, Under Secretary of International Relations of the Government of Lombardy and José Carlos Rodriguez, the Cuban Ambassador. But this is not the news recount of the fact, I’m barely a privileged observer. There are words of thanks and congratulations from the Lombard official and the Cuban diplomat. Beautiful the farewell of Dr. Carlos, chief of the Brigade in Cream, who spoke on behalf of solidarity Cuba that exalts us:
“I want to thank the Region of Lombardy for the reception we had in Italy, to the city of Cream, for the hospitality, for all the love that its villagers gave us, and also recognize the work of health staff, to all the doctors and nurses who worked with us, and allowed the goal we came for to be fulfilled.
Thank you also to the solidarity activists with Cuba, who were always by our side, aware of our needs and concerns. Today we only have to thank Italy for allowing us to come and offer our modest effort to save lives, to fulfill the commitment we have to humanity “.
Time is over. The Ambassador and the Under Secretary go to the plane staircase, in one final symbolic hug, then get on the ship. Brigadists take the final seats. The flight captain says a few words of thanks. That’s where we’ve gone. I know they are exhausted, that the tension of the days lived now begins to spill into their bodies. I know they are looking forward to meeting their family, their friends, although they will have to fulfill the rigour of quarantine. In life there are no breaks. Cuba, they know, has been attentive to their achievements, proud of their delivery, and preparing to receive them.
They will hear the well-deserved applause that the people tribute to them, and in a few days, they too will applaud others brave. No pause. Back to Turin with my brigade. It took patient number 100 to get out. But the doctors and nurses at Turin covid-OGR hospital don’t give up on their effort to save others, many lives. It is his tribute to those of Cream, to the beautiful history of Cuban solidarity, is his modest contribution, as was the one that ended today, to the construction of that other world possible and necessary.
PD. I leave you some of the photos I took at Milan airport.