My articles

Sheila: Life from Cuba


Sheila Rosario Aguliar was born in Cuba in the township of Guanabacoa October 31st 1996 in eastern Havana. She lived with her Mother Laura, and Brother Andy, in Havana for the Majority of her life until 2013. Her father Ramiro had left to move to the Dominican Republic, they remain in touch. Both of her parents are Dentists, While Sheila was young she recalls them only making about thirteen dollars a month, 312 dollars a year and unimaginable salary. Sheila’s parents’ hard working nature and horrible pay was a defining factor that made her want to leave Cuba.

She had never really considered Cuba to be her home nor is the Dominican where her father lives, the Dominican to her just a place to vacation and visit her Dad. She disagrees with Cuba’s communist polices and how the government treats its people, forcing them to only see what they want them to see. She also really hates the heat as well. She also found that  since they had been cut off from the outside world they had only the government to rely on for information a lot of people had a very outdate way of thinking, 50 or 60 years out of date. The view in Cuba was that Capitalism was the enemy and after Fidel Castro came into Power he planted the Communist system which was “supposed” to help the people by making everyone equal. This system also says that in order for economy to raise all the factories and companies have to be in the hands of the state. This makes it so that everyone will get paid the exact same no matter what, and ideology Sheila disagrees with. One of her problems with this way of thinking is that it doesn’t matter how much effort is put into your school work or how hard you work at all. A Garbage man and a Doctor will be paid the exact same wage even if one has had to go through years of hard work and schooling and the other only has to work a few hours a few times a week.

Sheila chose to leave Cuba in order to get a better education and better opportunities outside of Cuba. So she left the only home she had ever known and flew down to St. John’s Newfoundland to live with her Uncle Eslier who is a doctor and owns his own clinic with Michelle his wife (who is also a nurse at their clinic) and their two kids Belen and Javier. She was nervous at first; she barely knew her uncle and his family. She knew a bit of English from her school in Havana but she was not 100% fluent in the language.

When she came to Holy Spirit High school (HSHS) in September of 2013 she knew no one. She was badgered with stupid and ignorant questions and strange situations. Sheila and I we’re both the new kids at HSHS and the 12th grade when cliques have already been established hard. Sometimes the teachers or our former friend’s parent’s didn’t know who was from Cuba and who was from Montreal, they all assumed we didn’t speak English would talk very slowly to us with like we were young children with big gaps between words saying things like ‘How-Are-You-Liking-It-Here’ they would look as use wide eyed the way a parent may look at their baby hoping to get them to say ‘Mama’ or ‘Dada’ and with eyes that could only read as dead one of us would sigh and say “it’s nice” going off into detail about something or other using the biggest most complex words in vocabulary or I would say “ My whole family lives here” and wait for the adult to leave us alone. Sheila was once asked in our biology class if she spoke Cuban to which she responded ‘that’s not a language’ and the person who asked her the question responded’ that’s right I’m sorry do you speak Mexican?’. She was occasionally “teased” by the slightly crazed biology teacher in the winter when she wore her jacket inside the freezing class room. And was often asked if she could ‘understand what they’re saying’ when someone decided to blast some mariachi band music. Despite all this Sheila Graduate from HSHS with honors, but neither of us were invited to the Cap and gown ceremony even though a few teacher and staff regularly went to her uncle’s clinic. And my younger Sister Hailey attended our high school and worked in the office sorting papers and setting up the daily power points that would be played throughout the day on the school T.V monitors. They claimed they had no way of contacting us. Our families think that that may have been done purposely. But either way Sheila is on to bigger and better things Like University.

One thing she says she misses the most is her mother. The plan is to also get her Brother Andy (who is fourteen years old now) over to Newfoundland when he reaches seventeen years old in three years and get him a school visa to come and learn in Canada and leave Cuba. It was seeing how her parents and the people around her struggled to keep on going that has inspired Sheila to move forward in her schooling, she grew up around happy hardworking people and those ideals have been ingrained in her to become a better person, to strive for a better future. Sheila hopes that once she graduates from Memorial University from her engineering program in 2020 that she can work and save enough to bring her Mother Laura over as well and have the three of them live here permanently and leave Cuba behind.