Itinerant teacher Elena Pérez Estrada

Elena Pérez Estrada is a winner. It is discovered as soon as you see her and bumps into her direct gaze; that of a determined woman, as she always has been. She has weathered her storms in this life. Perhaps the greatest of all of them came the day when she could not speak.

Las Tunas, Cuba.- Yes, because Elena was a teacher, and she got sick with her voice. It was something terrible that made her suffer three surgeries and took her to Physiotherapy to be able to regain her voice. And as always comes after a big gale, it changed her existence.

She was unable to return to the classroom, at least not with the frequency and need for vocal projection that a teacher requires; but she was too young to retire, she knew herself strong and teaching classes had always been her job. Then, someone suggested that she would be a computer teacher, and she was determined to do so.

Only later, in a very short time, they told her that if she wanted to start as a traveling teacher and she launched herself unceremoniously down a difficult path in which she has already walked 25 years, and that she defines as the great possibility of her life.

And in such a way that, today, she is more than 60 years old, and still has the strength to work for at least two or three more years; because his vocal cords do not suffer, she speaks softly, slowly, and perceives the many changes that show the growth of her "children" every day.

Itinerant teachers are as special as their students. In Las Tunas, they form a brotherhood that retraces the streets, with very few resources, to reach the home of the little ones who suffer from physical or mental limitations and cannot go to schools. There, they make the wonder of education possible.

“The student ceases to be a student and becomes a bit of a son of one, as well. I can feel it because there are three boys I care for now, and I feel the same as when the only daughter that life gave me triumphs, an immense pride.

“Sometimes we come to take care of a child for the first time and we find desperate families, they do not have how to understand, they do not know how to make him or her feel comfortable and cooperate. In this work, patience is very important.

“In some cases, it is very hard, because almost always mothers carry the greatest weight; and most of them carry other children and responsibilities. These are special children and they need a person all the time, just for themselves. And that's when we help the most.

“We alert them to how far their little one goes, many times we consult with experts who explain to us to help them and we give them specific guidelines on how to proceed. We are a bit psychologists too.”

Elena says that more than once parents have been surprised to see their children do and learn things they never expected, and she regrets that in Cuba there are no electric wheelchairs and other accessories that would allow them to go further and even better prepare some of them for working life.