Hospitallary Activities of the Cuban Association

The purpose of the Order of Malta is the sanctification of its members through the defense of the faith and service to the poor. Through the centuries, the Order’s commitment to service to the poor and the needy, the Order’s primary focus being on the “Hospital.” The term “Hospital”, however, has to be understood in the context of the Middle Ages. A “hospital” attended to the needs of the person whatever they may be. A significant component of the services was medical, but the “Hospital” also provided lodging, food, clothing or whatever was needed.

The members of the Cuban Association participate in a series of projects intended to continue this tradition. Starting with the rehabilitation of the San Juan Bosco Clinic in the early 1990’s, the Cuban Association has created a series of projects which address the needs of the communities it serves while permitting its members to be of personal service to those in need. It programs include:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Programs in CUBA
  • Medical Missions
  • La Casita de Malta
  • San Juan Bosco clinic
  • Assistance to Haití
  • Financial Grants

 

Programs  in CUBA

The Cuban Association has been active developing charitable works both domestically in the Miami community and abroad, particularly in our beloved native country. In Cuba today there are 58 parish dining halls, or soup kitchens, throughout the island, subsidized by our efforts. More than 800,000 meals are served per year, primarily for the elderly. We also collaborate with the Spanish Association in the Church of Our Lady of Mercy project in La Habana, under the Vincentian Fathers.

In addition, we assist the Servants of Mary nuns who run four service facilities for children and the poor and provide support for an assistance center in Palma Soriano for children with Down’s syndrome. We also provide financial support for a residence for retired and disabled priests (not previously in existence), the assisted living facility at San Francisco de Paula. We also subsidize the only major seminary in Cuba, San Carlos y San Ambrosio, with a significant portion of its annual expenses, and a smaller seminary in the Archdiocese of Camaguey.

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La Casita de Malta

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La Casita was the dream child of a member of the Order and his wife, Luis and Berta Parajón. The Nuestra Señora de Filermo Assistance center established in 2008 a food Center for the poor named “La Casita de Malta”, based in the San Juan Bosco Church, in Miami, Florida.

This effort, supported by the Knights and Dames of Malta and a group of more than 120 volunteers, mostly high school students, who donate their time providing meals to hundreds of underserved parishioners. The volunteers also serve to assist religious programs with weekly meetings that may have anywhere from 70-80 women on the weekend. Please go to the page La Casita de Malta for further information.

 

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Medical Missions

hosp3Medical missions have been organized to the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Ecuador and Panama. In 1991, one of the first hospitallary works of the Association was the construction in Choluteca, Honduras, of a pharmacy, rehabilitation center, and maternity ward, in addition, to donation of supplies and equipment, including 2 buses for patient transportation. In 1994, there was even the rescue of Cuban balseros, by a plane piloted by members of our Association. In 2002, in response to the earthquake in El Salvador, an airplane was also chartered to transport 40,000 pounds of food supplies to the victims.

The work continues today in Puerto Rico, where the members assist the oldest hospital of the Americas, La Concepción, in San German.

The Order’s doctors conduct medical missions to the Dominican Republic and other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Typically, the all-volunteer team consists of eight to ten doctors, an equal number of nurses and physicians assistants, and several non-medical personnel that help to distribute materials and medicines. All medicines are given free of charge. A typical mission which is conducted over a three-day weekend will serve between 1,000 and 1,300 patients resulting in over 2,500 patient visits and the distribution of medications exceeding $100,000 in value.

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San Juan Bosco Clinic

Since its early beginnings, circa 1992, the Cuban Association working in the San Juan Bosco Parrish initiated the Medical Center aptly name the San Juan Bosco Clinic. This was done with the blessing of Mgsr. Vallina, Bishop Agustin Roman, the Archbishop of Miami, Edward McCarthy, and the Cuban Association of the Order of Malta. It was run by volunteer services including physicians, nurses, and lay personnel. Soon to join in with Mercy Hospital, the clinic advanced becoming a catholic medical center out reach for Mercy Hospital, caring for the non-documented in one of the poorest sections of Miami. The clinic grew in size and in recognition, adding a legal volunteer service to address the needs of the local community. This of course including immigration, assistants and shelter. Under the careful governance of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the medical care provided addressed adults, pediatric, and subspecialty assistance. Unfortunately, because of the poor condition of the structure the clinic was forced to move to Corpus Christi Parrish.

It is here at the clinic is housed today. Serving the Dade County underserved and uninsured (including the non-documented), giving medical care to the less fortunate.

Under the guidance of the Sisters of St. Joseph and current director Ms Berta Cabrera, the Medical Center has been able to make strategic liaisons with local hospitals affording her patients laboratory evaluation, x-ray examinations, surgical interventions and follow up therapy. The physicians of the Order of Malta service clinic primarily by giving specialty care to the needy. In the clinic, patients are seen by family practitioners, specialists in internal medicine and nurse practitioners. Identifying specific needs, these patients are referred to the specialists who will see these patients and their private offices free of charge.

The clinic sees an average of 977 patients per year; 6500 medical visits. The average cost care for each patients is $500 per year. The clinic is run by local support, grants and gifts. The programs offered include child services, adolescent services, breast cancer screening and diagnostic procedures, women’s services, patient education, diabetes education and treatment, pharmacy, internal medicine, and specialty care including cardiology, gastroenterology, pulmonary, to name a few.

Throughout the year, the Cuban Association of the Order of Malta hosts various events to help gain support, both volunteer and monetary, for these projects.

 

Assistance to Haiti

Since 2008, the Cuban Association has been lending assistance to different programs in Haiti. Pre earthquake, and post-earthquake as well, the Association has assisted Fr Anistus Chima CMF in the Parish of Nazon. This parish was completely demolished by the earthquake Jan 12, 2010. Through support efforts including those of the Cuban Association, this community and its church has been in process of rebuilding. The assistance continues guided through the efforts of Mauricio Fernandez, member of the Cuban Association.

Not only is assistance given in rebuilding structures destroyed but also by raising the spirit of the downtrodden. The Association assists Fr Chima in maintaining a summer camp for the children of the parish. This program is a yearly project.

 

During the summer of 2013 we were 100 children of this parish lead to a two-week camp, which allowed them to complete their school year and advance to the next grade. In this camp children to have full power and have good hygiene and safety. We have been raising money to repeat this camp in July 2014.

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Caribbean Focus

The Cuban Association continues to maintain preparedness for emergencies in the Caribbean. During the earthquake in Haiti the Cuban Association, charged with coordination of the relief efforts from Miami, in association with Malteser International, rotated ten teams of doctors and nurses, based in Miami, who donated their time away from their work and family assisting in the support of this devastated nation as well as the transport organization of teams from Germany, Italy and France.

The Cuban Association organized the acquisition of very necessary items from trucks to medical equipment and arranged for their transport into the country. The Cuban Association is one of the 25 National Associations of the Order of Malta who are members of Malteser International, the Order’s international relief arm.

 

Financial Grants

In addition to providing its personal services, the Cuban Association has established a program of financial assistance to projects in South Florida, Cuba, the Caribbean and Central America. In order to be approved, a project must be sponsored by a member of the Association and be consistent with the charisma of Order. Some of the projects which the Association sponsors financially on an annual basis include:

Fundación San José Obrero

Based in Choluteca, Honduras, this Foundation, operated by the Catholic Church in Honduras, provides needed social services as well as employment to the community. This foundation has been directed by Father Alejandro López Tuero, a Cuban priest who studied in Canada with Bishop Agustín Román and Cardinal Jaime Ortega.

The first work we did was donate a power plant that was purchased from the Florida Power and Light in 1996. Since that time we have been in contact with Fr. López Tuero in his mission to Miami that takes place twice a year to collect donations for his Foundation in Choluteca.