My Cuban abuelita: 101 years of faith (includes audio slideshow)

One hundred and one years old, Zoila Olivera, a resident of West Miami who migrated from Cuba more than five decades ago, continues leaning on her religious faith to endure.

Although Zoila sometimes forgets the name of her street, she always remembers the place of her birth.

“On Padre Carmelo street, in front on Casino Campreste,” Olivera said in Spanish.

The third of eight siblings, Zoila still cherishes her childhood memories with her siblings, filled with laughter, singing and long conversations. At the same time, she has seen many loved ones depart.

Widowed and without any surviving siblings, Zoila now finds solace in her altar adorned with religious relics and family memorabilia. Every night, before going to sleep, she says this corner of her room that keeps her reconnected with her loved ones.

My humble abuelita’s advice for herself, or maybe for the world, is “to never lose faith, fight for what is right and always do good.”

Heidi is a junior at Florida International University majoring in Digital Communication and Media. She is interested in culture and aims to tell stories that speak to the human connection and experience. In the future, she hopes to work in the entertainment field, storytelling through visual art and music.