13 Sept 2017

Cuban hurricane recovery work begins

The Dubois Charitable Foundation is a small volunteer-driven organization with no fancy offices. They work from the heart, on a shoestring budget. I've assisted their team in loading containers of humanitarian supplies for Cuba in the past and can wholeheartedly vouch for them! If you're considering where to donate towards Cuban hurricane recovery efforts, this group is a great choice. Here's a link to their website.

UPDATE: Thanks to an affiliation with a local business in Woodstock, Ontario, the Dubois Charitable Foundation can accept monetary donations by credit card (Visa or MasterCard), in either Canadian or U.S. funds. To donate this way, please call 519-537-5665 during regular business hours, Monday-Friday. Or, you can mail money orders or cheques/checks (in Canadian or U.S. dollars) directly to the foundation: 686681 Highway #2, RR #1, Princeton, ON N0V 1J0. 

Parcels of donated goods can be shipped to the above address, preferably through Federal Express, since their custom brokerage fees from the U.S. are reasonable. Donations can also be dropped off at: 1290 Dundas St., Woodstock, ON N4S 7V9.

Please note that 100% of the donations made to this charity will go to Cuba. All expenses, including shipping, are being covered by the Dubois family. Thanks VERY MUCH to all those who have donated to date!

Canadian charitable foundation prepares to send aid to Cuba

Hurricane Irma rolled along Cuba’s northern shore on Sept. 8-9 as Category 5 storm, leaving a wide swath of destruction in its wake. Due to the tremendous size of the storm and the associated high winds and flooding, the devastation stretches almost the full length of the country.

Irma first hit Cayo Romano, north of Camaguey, about 9 p.m. Friday night as it thundered into the Cuban archipelago. The eye of the storm sliced through popular resort destinations such as Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Santa Maria, and then moved on to the beachfront town of Caibarién before clawing its way northwest along the coast of the main island. It turned back out to sea before directly striking Varadero but, because of the hurricane’s magnitude, broad bands of wind and heavy rain extended deep into Cuba’s interior and the storm surge sent massive waves crashing over malecóns (seawalls) in Havana and other cities.

There is major damage in numerous provinces and reports are still coming in. It will be a long time before electricity, gas and other services are restored in some areas but clean-up work is already well underway. Reconstruction will begin soon and the Dubois Charitable Foundation (DCF) is ready to assist. This small Canadian organization is awaiting word from Cuban officials as to which area(s) they should target, once the full impact of the storm has been assessed. The DCF has been sending container loads of humanitarian supplies to Cuba since 2001, including special shipments following other hurricanes, so they are very experienced regarding government protocols.

“We prefer to have a big impact in a small area, rather than have a shotgun effect,” explained founder John Dubois. Once damage assessments are done, they will tailor the shipments to the specific needs of the locations they’ll be assisting. “We try to match what we send with what is needed.” He anticipates that building materials and tools will be on the list, in addition to clothing and household goods. During previous hurricane relief projects, they twice purchased and shipped about $60,000 in construction materials in two containers for families needing to rebuild homes. The DCF has also sent thousands of beds and mattresses for people who lost everything, and volunteers put together “family kits” of vital items like dishes, cutlery, frying pans and other basic necessities, packed into large plastic pails.

When not assisting with disaster relief, the foundation normally relies on donated goods for their annual shipments, which include a variety of essential items for schools and homes, as well as an assortment of medical equipment and supplies for hospitals, clinics, orphanages and seniors’ residences. The need for medical equipment in Cuba is what inspired John to begin sending shipments to the country over 17 years ago. While taking a Spanish language course in Havana, he became acquainted with a doctor there and learned that, despite the skills and training of the medical personnel, they often lacked basic resources. Once back home in Canada, John heard of a hospital that was being closed and its equipment decommissioned. He connected the dots, completed an enormous amount of paperwork and was able to facilitate a shipment of medical equipment to Cuba.

Since then, the non-profit foundation he created has sent over 80 containers of humanitarian aid, primarily to Cuba. In order to do this work, they rely heavily on volunteers, mostly located near the DCF base in Woodstock, Ontario, and on donations of all kinds. To learn more about this organization and how you can help, please visit their website: www.duboischaritablefoundation.com


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