My father left Cuba first because he was being persecuted by the Castro government.
Then my sister and I came on March 17, 1961 with student visas and a $5 bill that my Grandfather had given to my sister to hide. We came with only the clothes we were wearing.
We went to a campus in Kendall ran by the nuns from Merici Academy and priests from Belen, I believe. Father Walsh went to greet us at the airport along with other children and took us to the campus. There they gave us clothes and took care of us. We even had a chapel in which a Priest said Mass every Sunday. We helped around the campus, kitchen, etc. They had bunk beds in a very large room; the girls stayed at one side of the building and the boys at the other side.
We practiced sports and it was a very nice environment. I will never forget it! My mother and small brother (who was 4 at the time) arrived in Miami approx April or May, 1961. By then, my father had 3 jobs and they were able to retrieve us to live with them (in a 1 bedroom apt), because they were moving the children away to foster homes throughout the US.
I am now 61 yrs old and I WILL NEVER FORGET the experience. My father has since passed away and my mom is 84 yrs old.
It has been quite a ride!!!
Maria del Carmen Souto