After previous trips to Cuba, as part of the Caring for Caribbean Communities group, Alex Rode will be going it alone this year.
The 17-year-old has already started fundraising for the venture and has enlisted help from his parents to make the August trip happen.
“The first year I went along just because my family was doing the missions trip but then, once we met the people, I immediately wanted to come back so it was kind of the same sentiment the second year, wanting to come back for the third year, wanting to see the people again, and Cuba’s sweet,” said the teenager.
Together, the family of four made the first trip to Cuba in 2013. Alex and his father Sheldon returned on a mission last year, which lead to Alex deciding to go it alone this year.
Sheldon, who runs Road to Healing Massage Therapy on the city’s south end said the trip focuses on environmental projects in Cojimar, Cuba, such as helping clean garbage and debris from beaches and teaching locals how to build a community garden as well as some children’s programming.
“It’s mainly teaching about environmentalism,” he said.
“Cubans, they don’t care about throwing (away) stuff and the beach is just filthy. We cleaned five mornings for a couple of hours each morning and you’re just barely scratching the surface… We had I think about four different groups… and it seemed like they were catching on.”
To help his son raise funds for the adventure, Sheldon, a registered massage therapist, will be teaching a Swedish relaxation massage workshop for couples on Saturday, June 18 at the Christian Fellowship Assembly from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., a workshop he’s held to fundraise in the past.
“It’s your basic massage,” he said.
“We take the couples through back, neck and shoulders and if we have time, we do a bit of face but back, neck and shoulders in an evening is enough for people to digest and kind of get their hands used to working like that so it’s broken up in two sessions. It’s always been a lot of fun, lots of laughter and just a great evening for me and people have really enjoyed it.”
Couples also receive a sequence written out for them so they can go home and practise their massage skills.
Mom Andrea said her son has taken on a variety of odd jobs such as collecting bottles and mowing lawns, to help him reach his fundraising goal.
“He’s almost there,” she said.
“I’m excited to go back,” he said of the August trip.
Pre-registration for the massage session is required and costs $60 a couple, or $75 a couple after June 10, with all proceeds going to the Cuba mission. Any donations made over and above the registration fee is tax deductible.
To register or for more information, contact Road to Healing Massage Therapy at 780-814-3407 or by email at [email protected]
Jocelyn Turner, Daily Herald Tribune
June 8, 2016