Story of my life

29 April 2022

My name is Jose. I am Cuban. My life story starts the day I was born. It is very hard to live in my country, especially if you are gay. Everything in our country was for the tourists, such as beaches, restaurants and even hotels. The whole world sees us as the most beautiful place but no one knows what is actually happening behind the walls. Being on the island made everything even worse because we just realized that we are alone and that nobody can help us, except ourselves. We were not allowed to go anywhere and in case we were found anywhere but on the street, on the way for and to work and our house, we would be taken to prison or tortured in a worse possible way. You can also notice the scars on my hand that are burns caused by the hot metal, and that is only because I am gay.

People would go to a prison for any reason, for not paying the rent and raising their voice against the government. Payments are very low and they are not enough to buy the main things for living and we were running out of the medicines and people started making their own because a lot of them were dying and no one cared. Life in Cuba has always been difficult but with the pandemic, everything gets worse. Prices grow day by day and the government wants to “lock” the island. Therefore, people who had some houses and cars started selling everything they had, only for a flight ticket. Just to leave the island, not knowing what is going to happen, where they’re going to sleep and what to do. My first flight was to Russia, because that was one of the two countries that we were allowed to go in. I tried to find a job but I couldn’t so I spent a couple of months sleeping on the streets. After that I went to the second country that Cubans could enter without a visa, Serbia. With some luck, I found a job as a construction worker. At the beginning, it was not that bad because I was able to pay my rent and live. Some things started changing all of a sudden, and I noticed that the employees were exploiting us as manpower and the salary started going down. For the stay in Serbia, we got the work permit but then after everything we had been through, we had decided to go to Bosnia. The trip was very long. Between the buses, walking and the boat, finally we had made it to Sarajevo. Attention was not great and we wanted to be closer to the Croatian border so we heard about the city, called Bihac. We arrived at Bihac, and like in the movies, we had people waiting for us, giving us food, welcoming us and talking us to the camp Lipa. We were scared that we would be deported and we couldn’t believe that this is all real, the attention we got, activities they prepared for us and the people that dont call us “immigrants”. These people have a heart and they are different. If half of the world is like them, our planet would be a better place. I know that my story doesn’t end here and if I could choose a place where to die, that would definitely be this, Bihac! Small place with big hearted people! Thank you for everything!