administrator's blog

Pedro Pan Street

Co-Designation Ceremony

Click on the image
Click on the Image

Friday, November 22, 2013
Kendall Indian Hammocks Park
8000 SW 107 Avenue
Miami, Florida 33176


Tags:

My visit with my Foster Parents

by Ricardo J. Cata

Baldwin High School Nexus- June 2013

On October 12, 2012, I visited with my foster parents, Vinnie and Jeanne (Graven) Barbato '42 of Baldwin. My brother Jose and I arrived at the Barbato household on November 14, 1962, a very cold day 50 years ago. They still live today in the same house as in 1962. I was 15 and Jose was 16 at the time. We were refugees from the Castro regime in Cuba. Our parents sent us to the United States alone to get us out, and to give us a future and a hope. Our parents, Manuel and Maria, and my sister Maria who was 13 at the time, came to the U.S. in June 1963. My mother, brother and I then set up our new home in North Grand Avenue, with the help, support and guidance of Vinnie and Jeanne.

My brother and I arrived in Miami on August 12, 1962 as part of the "Pedro Pan" program (see: www.pedropan.org), which was a program created in 1960 by the Catholic Welfare Bureau in conjunction with the United States State Department. About 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children (boys and girls) below the age of 18 years came out of Cuba through this program between 1960 and 1962. My brother and I stayed in Army tents at Camp Matecumbe in Southwest Miami-Dade County with about 400 other boys for 3 months, until the time we were sent to the Barbato home.

My brother and I were blessed to come into the Barbato household. Vinnie and Jeanne, and their twin boys, Steve and Stanley, were wonderful, caring and loving to my brother and me. I have told Vinnie and Jeannemany times since then how blessed I feel, because I had two sets of parents, my natural parents, and Vinnie and Jeanne.

It was a sweet visit with Vinnie and Jeanne this past October, talking about memories from 40 to 50 years ago. We went to mass at St. Christopher's' Saturday morning, and then for breakfast at the Coach Dinner. I left from there to the airport. It seems incredible that 50 years have gone by since that November day in 1962. I recall that when we went to register at BHS, they had to call the Spanish teacher down to administration (a German
fellow), because no one else spoke Spanish.

I left Baldwin in 1975, after 2 years in the Army, and graduating from College and St. John's Law School. Vinnie and Jeanne were great mentors for me and played no small part in keeping me from dropping out of law school during my first year. I have lived, and practiced law, in the South Florida area since 1975. My wife Ani has visited Vinnie and Jeanne on two occasions. With the perspective of the years and having a family and grandchildren, I have come to fully appreciate the enormous sacrifice my parents made back in August 1962 to give my brother and me the guarantee of freedom. I bless their memory.

I also salute, hug, kiss and bless Vinnie and Jeanne for their great act of love and compassion, initially with my brother and me, and later on also with my mother and sister. Well done good and faithful servants!

MATECUMBE

By JUAN PUJOL

El sábado 8 de Junio estuvimos reunidos en Camp Matecumbe para celebrar el 50 aniversario de la graduación de la única clase de “seniors” de Matecumbe High. El calor y la humedad imperante no se podían comparar con el calor humano en los abrazos y saludos de todos los que allí estábamos celebrando con ellos.

Como siempre que nos vemos en ocasiones como esta, tal parecía que nos habíamos visto recientemente, que nunca nos habíamos separado, aunque en muchos casos no nos habíamos visto más desde que nos despedimos al irnos del Campamento.

Matecumbe es un lugar muy especial que a veces es difícil de explicar, yo viví allí casi un año de los tres que estuve en el programa. Viví en tres campamentos; pero ningún otro dejó en mi las huellas que dejó Matecumbe.

No negaré que sufrí conociéndote aquel día...” como diría el poema sobre Matecumbe en el ultimo numero de Forja. (Publicación mensual de Octubre del 62 hasta Mayo/ Junio del 64).

Llegué una noche de agosto en medio de una tormenta tropical y al acostarme en la litera que me asignaron, sin sábana o almohada, me quedé dormido sintiendo las gotas de la lluvia cayendo en el techo de la carpa que me cubría, pero muy contento y agradeciendo a Dios el llegar a tierras de libertad.

Al otro día tuvimos un día bello y los rayos de sol se filtraban entre los muchos pinos que nos rodeaban, lo vi como una señal que mi pesadilla vivida en mi Patria en el último año, quedaba atrás como la tormenta de la noche anterior y mi vida comenzaba una nueva etapa llena de esperanza.

Después de vivir allí, yo estuve listo para todo lo que enfrenté más adelante, tal vez fue por aquello que oía de “me roza, me patina, me resbala y me pasa por el lado y ni me echa fresco” o los ratos que, solo con los pinos y los montes me ponía a hablar con Dios o el compartir con aquellos que tenían los mismos valores que yo y veíamos el tiempo en el Campamento como estar en una fragua forjándonos para el futuro.

Todos nosotros tenemos la responsabilidad de proclamar nuestra saga, de contar nuestra historia personal, de que se sepa que estamos orgullosos de ser llamados Pedro Pan, de que estamos agradecidos a nuestros padres que hicieron el sacrificio de enviarnos a un futuro incierto; pero que ofrecía más tranquilidad y seguridad de lo que estábamos viviendo en Cuba.

Camp Matecumbe es el lugar ideal para mantener físicamente recuerdos de nuestra historia, vamos a unirnos todos, no solamente los Matecumberos, sino todos los Pedro Pan.

El Board de Directores de OPPG ha tomado la iniciativa en dar estos primeros pasos y les estamos muy agradecidos por su esfuerzo.

Hago un llamado a todos a trabajar unidos para conseguir que podamos decir MATECUMBE VIVE.

“Matecumbe, nombre indio, coraje y abnegación
Matecumbe, tu recuerdo, vivirá en mi corazón…”

Camp Matecumbe Celebration 2013

Camp Matecumbe Celebration 2013

Click on the image
Click on the Image

Saturday, June 8, 2013
Camp Matecumbe
13841 SW 120 St
Miami, Fl 33186


Tags:

Matecumbe High School Class Reunion- A 50 year reunion chronicle

by Daniel Arco Reyes

In the morning of Saturday June 8th, the grounds of Camp Matecumbe were visited by a crowd in excess of 200 people which included former residents of the camp, their spouses, children, grandchildren and friends as well as many other Pedro Pan kids that were housed at different facilities and their families.  The large crowd included a Pedro Pan mother, Leonor Valdivia, representing the brave mothers of the 14,048 Pedro Pan children, the women that courageously chose freedom for their sons and daughters over oppression at the price of separation.

The gathering marked the Golden Anniversary (50 years) reunion of the first and only graduating class of Matecumbe High School.  For this special and uplifting event several of the grads were reunited once again as they have done before. Guys travelled from different parts of the country to attend the festivities, to rekindle the friendship and brotherhood forged under the tents and on the shadows of the pine trees of the camp.

The program was initiated inside the Gran Cabana with a Thanksgivings Mass officiated by Father Sergio Garcia-Miro, one of the four former camp instructors also in attendance.  Some of the members of the '63 graduating class participated in the liturgy. During the school year of 1962-63 Fr. Sergio was the instructor in charge of this group. Immediately following the mass, Carmen Valdivia, representing OPPG’s Board of Directors with the assistance of the former instructors, presented each of the grads present a certificate commemorating the historical occasion.

The attendees enjoyed a plethora of hors d'oeuvres before a delicious paella was served to everyone's delight.


Back row left to right: Leandro Alvarez (Hialeah, Fl), Mario Naranjo (North Carolina), Roberto Balbis (West Palm Beach, Fl), Ernesto Perdomo (New Jersey), Angel Carballo (Puerto Rico), Jesus Esteban Ramil (Miami,Fl), Luis Lopez (Miami, Fl), Porfirio Gramatges (Marco Island, Fl) , Daniel Arco (Texas) and Wilfredo Braceras (Miami, Fl). Front row left to right: Rolando Crespo (Miami, Fl) and Arturo Lara (Pennsylvania).

In the evening hours the group of graduates got together at the home of one of their classmate to continue visiting with each other in a more intimate environment, to recount events, to tell anecdotes, to remember their teachers and their classmates absent from this reunion, to relive their days in camp and to catch up with the happenings of each other. While the room was filled with laughter, joy and good times the group of wives (which connected equally as well as the guys) marveled at the strong bond these men have been able to create and maintain despite the passing of five decades.  Though they are scattered throughout the country they have the ability to reconnect instantaneously with each other and carry on as if they have never been separated from each other for any period of time.  As so aptly was said several times during the reunion "fifty years have gone by and nothing has changed"