Matilde Castiel

English Translation -- Physician, UMass Medical School; Director, Héctor Reyes House; Born in Cuba

I was born in Cuba and I remained there until the age of ... six and a half to seven years and then I came to the United States in a program called … Operation Peter Pan.

[It was difficult] because when I came I was only six and a half or seven years old and had to leave my parents in Cuba, and I came with a woman that I did not know. I didn’t speak English and I went to school without knowing how to speak English. So, this was very difficult. After, when my parents came things became better for me. However, it was more difficult for them because they were now living in a new culture, a new language.


Dr. Matilde Castiel was born in Cuba on November 3, 1954. In this interview she discusses how as a young girl she participated in "Operation Peter Pan," which brought her and her older brother, along with many other children, from Cuba to the United States. She then had to live with a foster family until her parents were able to immigrate to the United States. Dr. Castiel did her undergraduate studies at the University of California in San Francisco, and later earned a medical degree from that same institution. She now lives in Holden, MA with her husband Aaron Mendel, and their two sons. Currently, she teaches medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and runs the Héctor Reyes House, a home for Latino men in Worcester who are recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. Dr. Castiel identifies herself as a Jewish and a Cuban woman. She wishes to return to Cuba in the future.

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