By Tay Toscano Jerez / Radio Cadena Agramonte.
I met Leonela in Haiti, back in 2000. Ten years seem quite a lot of time, but I remember those days very clearly; so clearly that I can perfectly remember her studying constantly and checking every detail of a method that firstly came in creole and through the airwaves to alphabetize a nation that still needs much help and will.
And believe me that that wonderful work by the Cuban educators in the sister nation was the substance for my many reports, because then I was correspondent of the Radio Cubana, “from the Caribbean Sea that joins us”, as I usually said at the end of them.
A decade has past and Leonela Inés Relys Díaz, who has a Doctor's degree in Pedagogy and is the 2006 UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize laureate is still a good friend of mine, always ready to enter into a dialogue, always happy to have close in her heart her dearest Camagüey. A recent call shook our memories and brought us to the present.
We talked about Haiti; of course, and about the harsh reality of their daily existence; but was strongest the happy moments and the fact that in that nation emerged what has been a suitable vehicle to eliminate illiteracy in almost 30 countries in several regions of the globe.
Leonela is now retired; however, she continues waking up early to write and work, while goes to bed very late, as she herself says. I still create things, she tells me, and can listen to her diaphanous and typical smile through the phone.
Today December 22, Cuba observes the Teacher's Day, and I personally believe that the spirit of work and of dedication of Leonela Inés Relys Díaz, who was born in Camaguey, but is of Cuba and even of the whole world, one of the participants of the Literacy Campaign in the 1960´s, takes roots in hundreds of teachers and professors who do their best so that we can continue having an educated and free people as José Martí wanted.
I met her in Haiti, ten years ago and although they might seem quite a lot of time, Leonela for me is still an example of educator.