This year I spent the Thanksgiving holiday differently. But it gave me a glimpse of enterprising women in a variety of circumstances. My family and I went our separate ways, and on Black Friday I boarded a plane to Havana, Cuba.
The irony was not lost on me. During a holiday when we celebrate the abundance of harvest in a land of freedom and opportunity, I was landing in a communist country, where free enterprise is lacking. On Black Friday, a day in which we shop and spend unnecessarily, I was landing in a country where there is very little commerce and access to quality food is not a guarantee.
The decaying facades of the booming post-war economy of the early 1950’s are everywhere in Old Havana, and the imagination fills in the pieces of what was a glamorous and lively port city.
An Enterprising Woman in a 3rd World Country
Airbnb is widely used in Cuba and is the best way to provide income directly to the Cuban people. My Airbnb host was an enterprising young lady who in a short time has become a super-host with Airbnb. The accommodation was a simple apartment on the 6th floor of a small, narrow, 10-story government-owned building. She rents the front bedroom where old wooden shutters open up to a beautiful view of the Morro and the entrance of the harbor. The bedroom had simple furnishings and the luxury of air conditioning. The bathroom toilet was missing the toilet seat but toilet paper was provided. (Toilet seats and toilet paper are rare in Cuba.)
My host runs her Airbnb with superb hospitality. Her boyfriend cooks a gourmet and beautifully presented breakfast for guests. And her 4-year old daughter is a vivacious little girl oblivious to the challenges of life in a communist country.
From Cuba, I traveled to Paraguay where I am working on a second citizenship and developing a network for foreign investing and local friendships. In Paraguay, the economy is growing at a stable 4% per year and slowly emerging into the second world. The friendly Paraguayan citizens often lack adequate education but are enterprising and hungry for progress.
Enterprising Women in an Emerging Economy
I observed the leadership and sharp eye of the capable lady manager of my local historic hotel in the capital. I met the talented lady who is the leader and educational specialist for UNICEF in Paraguay. She is both a former vice presidential candidate in Paraguay and the mother of an autistic son. Another accomplished lady I met is a top executive at a prominent, family owned local bank. And there was an outstanding American lady there who fell in love with a Paraguayan man and has given her heart to Paraguay and important projects in the country.
Enterprising Women in USA Politics
I reflect on our recent mid-term elections. No matter what your political leanings, women took giant strides forward in political leadership this year in the USA. I am proud of these enterprising women, and I am proud to live in a country where we have the opportunity to speak and work freely.
Enterprising Women in Dentistry
As women in the profession of dentistry, we enjoy wonderful clinics with excellent team members dedicated to helping our patients. In spite of our individual struggles, we give of ourselves enormously.
Often our patients need to relieve their personal burdens while they are in our dental chairs. While some need a hug or kind word of encouragement, there are times I also give a gentle reminder. Nearly every activity or stress in our daily American lives is a wonderful privilege that many enterprising women in other cultures lack, and I often share poignant stories from my travels.
Kudos to Women Worldwide
Many women of the world don’t have much opportunity, and yet they find creative ways to stride forward, accomplishing amazing feats of success in their individual lives. This holiday season I want to give a toast to all the women of the world and each of their accomplishments. We are DeWing! So let’s take notice of our struggles as well as our achievements. And as we interact with each other, let’s offer a cheer in acknowledgement of our efforts around the world.