I became a man when I was nine. My other option was death.
I just didn’t know it then, but the truth is that I . . . we . . . had to leave.
Why would parents send their children, alone, to a foreign country with no guarantee that they would ever see each other again? From December 1960 to October 1962, over 14,000 unescorted children fled Cuba for the United States in what became known as Operation Peter Pan. Under Fidel Castro’s tyrannical regime, the state confiscated people’s property and bank accounts. Food, clothing, and medicine were rationed. Churches, houses of worship, and clergy were attacked. There was no freedom. Cubans lived in fear.
When Tony and Norma boarded the plane that would fly them to freedom, they had no idea what the future would hold. Theirs was a voyage into the unknown. A Boy, an Orphanage, a Cuban Refugee chronicles their emotional journey through Tony’s eyes as he and Norma navigate life for six weeks in a refugee camp and then a year in an orphanage, until they are finally reunited with their mother.