Ruel – The Family Man
The most important thing in Ruel’s life is simply, but emphatically: Family. He is a quiet man who knows his limitations but finds simplistic joy in his everyday surroundings. He is a man of few words but thinks profoundly about what he says before he speaks. This gift of wisdom gives him the stability to react in situations with a calm head and a focused mind.
Ruel’s reserved nature allows him to observe the world around him, gaining a unique and thoughtful perspective on life in Cuba for the common citizen. He describes himself as a valiant and fearless man, who at all times stands his ground for what he feels is right for himself and for his family. This is his story:
Ruel’s family includes his two sisters, his mother and his three nieces. As the only man in the family, Ruel feels an added responsibility to provide in any way possible for his family. The four adults and three children live together in a small, rundown apartment in the heart of Havana. They are a close-knit family who look out for each other, providing a place of security and refuge despite any unrest or uncertainty in the world around him.
When Ruel reflects on what has influenced his life most, he lands on a single word: Society. With further prodding for an explanation, he discusses the constant changing of society, societal norms, government practices, economic policies and opportunities as constructing his experiences. These changes in the society around him in Cuba, have had the greatest impact in his daily life.
As a child, Ruel had dreams of escaping his poverty through grand ambitious to be a traveling businessman. He desired to help lift his family away from the daily requirements of food, a place to sleep and clean water to drink, to a state of influence and power, to impact the world beyond his small family. No matter the area, no matter the product, Ruel simply wanted a means to escape the daily fight for necessities and live a life where he could think about more than basic survival.
Joy for Ruel is all about his family. “Living well as a good citizen of the world with my family, that brings me joy,” he says. He finds hope in the future by having hope in his family. Yet Ruel acknowledges there is misery in the direction that Cuba is moving now. Instead of more security and more opportunity, he fears the future for Cubans will be more of the same or even fewer opportunities to live the dream of escaping poverty through industry and work.
Ruel admits the challenges he faces, working as a server in a small restaurant with only the capacity to seat three tables. Yet he knows this is not his future. He trusts in himself, that he will continue to work and to strive and to struggle, but will create a better future for not only himself, but his sisters, their daughters and his mother. As he trusts himself, he is very cautious of trusting any others. In fact, he describes trust as only in himself, and that he feels distrust towards the rest of the world. He feels he can only really rely on himself to get him through the challenges life throws at him. Despite having some hopes of a better future, he feels he must live day by day, because he never truly knows what his next day will hold.
A unique perspective Ruel holds is that the most commonly misunderstood part of his culture is simply that the world looks at Cuba in a black and white scenario. They don’t see the good that happens, he feels the country has been labeled as completely dire.
Yet that’s not entirely true. Just as in all parts of the world, they experience the good and the bad together. There are things to be celebrated in Cuba and times of joy, as well as times of pain and devastation. Ruel feels that because the world sees Cuba in only a negative light, they don’t understand the joy that can be felt in his homeland. “Cubans don’t only experience difficulty, they also experience joy and happiness. Yet most foreigners never see this side of Cuban life.”
Although he readily admits his greatest flaw is that he has had no opportunity to know any other life, culture or country than his own, Ruel feels that the love he has for his family is not appreciated by the outside world for the joy it brings him.
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