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Canalside Chronicles

The Student News Site of Canalside Chronicles

Canalside Chronicles

The Student News Site of Canalside Chronicles

Canalside Chronicles

A second chance
May 7, 2024

A better life together

By: Estefania Urdaneta

Douglas Marrero spent 30 years living in Cuba with few opportunities, little recognition for the work he was doing and no way to grow. He decided the only way to grow was to leave the country he loved. Now, 13 years later living in Rochester, Marrero reflects on his journey to the United States.

Marrero moved to Venezuela to be part of theMisión Barrio Adentro project. He was part of the 29,255 applicants of the Misión Barrio Adentro, finding work at a health facility in places where healthcare had once been unaffordable or inaccessible.

“I was on a medical mission where I lived in Venezuela for two years under a contract, providing medical services at a Venezuelan hospital,” Marrero said.

After working at a Centro de Diagnostico Integral (CDI) for two years, he met his now wife, Diley Marrero, and they decided to move to the United States together.

Douglas (right) and Diley Marrero (left) sit together at the Teleférico de Caracas in Caracas, Venezuela on June 19, 2013 (Contributed photo).

“I met Diley in Venezuela. We were working at the same CDI, and we started dating. We decided to take a leap of faith and start a new life in a country where we didn’t even know the language so we could have a better life together,” Douglas said.

Diley Marrero went to Venezuela for the same reason Douglas did, she wanted to have the opportunity to grow and prosper.

“I had just started dating Douglas when we decided to come to the U.S. The idea might have seemed crazy at the time, but it was what we had to do if we wanted to make it in a country where we had no one else,” Diley said.  

They received their visas in Venezuela and crossed the border to Colombia before finally arriving in Miami.

“In Venezuela, we went to the American embassy and received our visas with the condition that we had to travel through Colombia because Venezuela didn’t have flights to the U.S. and if we had tried to go through Venezuela, we ran the risk of getting deported,” Douglas said.

Douglas and Diley entered the U.S. as refugees and spent 15 days in Miami, where they were welcomed by the Catholic Family Center. There, they received shelter and food while their paperwork was completed.

“Coming here with nothing and no one to help us was difficult,” Douglas said. “I’m just glad the Catholic Family Center took us in and then gave us the option to come to Rochester and we took it because we didn’t have anywhere else to go. We didn’t have any family, so we took the help that they gave us. When we arrived, it was not what we expected. We arrived right after a snowstorm, and we had never seen snow before,” Douglas said.

Diley (left) and Douglas Marrero (right) along with their daughter, Paola (center), celebrate after receiving their American citizenship on April 25, 2019 (Contributed photo).

After moving to Rochester, Douglas worked in housekeeping at a nearby hotel where he would walk to work every day.

“The Catholic Family Center helped us a lot. They helped us get on our feet. They paid for our first few months of rent and enrolled us in a school to learn English. As for my job, I was just glad to work and make money. We needed it; even if I had to do something I had never done before. I was just grateful I was able to provide for Diley,” Douglas said.

In August of 2017, Douglas started the nursing program at Monroe Community College and graduated in July of 2019. He began studying for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and passed it in 2021, becoming a registered nurse.

“I started working that same year as a homecare nurse as a podiatrist, which is what I studied in Cuba and what I worked as in Venezuela,” Douglas said. “I worked there for three years.”

Douglas now works for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. He and his wife are completing their master’s degree in nursing and preparing to become a nurse practitioner.

“We try to study every night. We set aside two to three hours after our girls’ bedtime to study,” Douglas said. “We like working together. We worked together in Venezuela and since then, we have not stopped.”

Diley and Douglas Marrero walk down the aisle after saying “I do” in Rochester, NY on July 17, 2023 (Contributed photo).

Douglas and Diley Marrero got married in the middle of 2023. After many years, they were able to accomplish what they had always wanted; a better life in a safe place where they could continue to grow and be valued for their hard work.

“I never would have thought that decision would have led to where we are now. I never would have dreamed that decision would have led us to accomplish so much in a country we had only heard stories about,” Diley said.

Douglas and Diley Marrero decided to return to Cuba recently and were surprised at what they found.

“We went back to Cuba for a few days after 10 years and it was not what we expected. We expected it to be worse. We don’t have any plans to go back, but maybe in two to three years plans might change,” Douglas said.

Even if they don’t decide to go back to their home country, home will always be where they are together.

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