The Population Pyramid / Rebeca Monzo

Next to my apartment building, in the corner of 41st Street in Nuevo Vedado, there is a kindergarten that has been there for many, many years, My two children, with 12 years between them, attended there.

From my apartment I could hear the children’s voices and laughter, and sometimes, the screams of the seños — the caregivers, who are not teachers. I became accustomed to hearing them and thought they were funny although, on occasion, their nonsense towards those who cared for them bothered me. Suddenly, it was 3 months or more, when the silence and the neglect of the place disturbed me. The area is on a corner which has beautiful trees and because of that, it makes it a highly desirable place to build those nasty low-cost houses that have been spoiling the architecture of the neighbourhood for years.

Yesterday, when I was walking from the market, I was struck by the state of a daycare in this neighbourhood that had been completely abandoned for 2 years. It was said they would remodel it but, far from it, they have left it to drift. Windows are missing glass and in some cases there are only marks where windows used to be. Wild grasses cover the ground all around. There is not a single sign indicating that they are repairing it nor is anyone watching the premises.

On my way home, I encountered a woman who is the director of kindergartens in this neighbourhood. I asked her what will happen with the one next to my house. She told me it couldn’t reopen because there were not enough children. Only two had been registered. She also commented to me that this situation is repeated in all municipal areas as the child population pyramid is very low. As you know, it is the same in Europe. But for different reasons, I replied. She paused and said goodbye. I realised she had memorized the official party line.

November 11, 2010