3 Nov 2022

My May trip report & November plan

I owe you an apology...and an update on Cuba!

I've been remiss. I posted a bunch of photos on Facebook following my May 2022 journey to Cuba but I neglected to provide a report on that trip via this venue or on my website. What can I say except, I'm sorry! I had a busier summer and fall than expected and, now, I'm heading off to Cuba again (tomorrow!), suitcases fully loaded with vital items for friends there who are struggling more than ever.

I didn't ask for donations this time for two reasons: 1.) Thanks to the generosity of those who donated in the spring, I still had some supplies left over; 2.) Things had been rather up in the air regarding this trip. When I finally got all the details sorted out, I scrambled to fill the suitcases, quickly purchasing what was needed. On this trip, I will be taking more food than anything else because friends in the rural areas where I'll again be going have identified that as a particular need – protein sources, especially. During my May trip, I gave out bags of basic medical/health supplies to many families.

On that tour, too, I had the opportunity to attend the 2022 book fair, hosted in Bayamo, the capital of the Granma province. It was very interesting to see the wonderful outreach and literacy promotion activities associated with this annual event, as well as to meet other writers. You can find photos of the "Feria del Libro de Granma" among my Facebook albums. You'll also find an album featuring "Casa de Noel," the B&B in Pilón where I'll again be staying for the last part of my trip.

The first part of the coming junket will be spent at a resort called Brisas Guardalavaca, on the opposite shore from Marea del Portillo, where I had originally been booked to stay. My favorite little resort, which has been closed since the start of COVID, was supposed to re-open Nov. 2, but Sunwing pushed back the opening to Dec. 14. Many of the dear people who normally work have been unemployed for close to three years now. Some former staff have had to move to other parts of the island to find work and others have left the country.

To say that times are tough in Cuba seems like an understatement. When I was there in May, some people said things were as bad as they were during the so-called "Special Period," but others disagreed. Now, however, I think everyone would say things are as bad or worse than they were in the early '90's, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Without that key trading partner, Cuba's economy tanked. Currently, the lack of tourism is the biggest factor in the nation's present financial problems. Things are starting to pick up in some areas, though, including the one I will soon be visiting – Holguin.

When I return from this trip, I promise to give you a report in a more timely fashion! And, to all those who generously donated to assist with my trips earlier this year, thanks again for your wonderful support.



2 Nov 2022

Cuba breaks my heart more every day

Cuba breaks my heart. I want to help. Do you?

I don't usually use images that are not my own but this one grabbed my heart and squeezed. It seems so emblematic of Cuba right now. The people are struggling. They need support more than ever.

In February, I took about 100 lbs. of "humanitarian aid" to people in a rural, remote part of the country, as you may already know. This aid was made possible by friends and family members (you know who you are!) who responded to an appeal I put out prior to that trip. Your support gave my heart wings! And, it allowed me to lift the spirits of many people.

I have a strong connection with the southern part of the Granma province, particularly to families in Marea del Portillo, Mota, Pilón and Niquero. Many folks there h
ave been out of work since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, since much of that region's employment is tourism based. So, that's where I've been directing my assistance.

On May 17, I plan to return there with another load of medical/health supplies, but I need your support. Medicine-cabinet items like children's cough syrup, pain pills, anti-inflammatory aids, arthritis rubs, antibiotic creams, etc. are expensive! In Cuba, however, they are both extremely expensive and hard to find. If your kid has a cough and you have a headache you often just have to ride it out.

During my February/March visit, I saw first-hand how difficult daily life has become. The gifts I took were very much appreciated by the families who received them, and I'm confident they will share with others in need. My friends are that kind of people. They will be helping me to distribute whatever I can manage to take in May.

I want to take as much as possible to help the long-suffering people of Cuba. Although I generally try to avoid political commentary, I will say this: The government of Cuba has made some choices I do not agree with; people are often not able to make their own choices but must live with the consequences nonetheless.

I don't expect to change the world. I'm not trying to do so. But, if I'm able to make a difference in a few lives, I'm going to do it! I hope you are with me in spirit. If you also feel able to support me monetarily in this endeavor, I would greatly appreciate it.
You can contribute via e-transfer to jennicacuba@gmail.com (in Canada) or through PayPal (if you don't have your own account, I can send you a "request" that allows you to use a credit card).

I hate to ask for money but, quite frankly, my budget is already being stretched quite a bit for this trip. However, I feel it is important to take more humanitarian aid while I can – and while the Cuban government is offering a duty-free exemption for suitcases filled with health/medical supplies. The deadline for this tax waiver is fast approaching, which factored into the trip's timing. I'm following my heart to Cuba.

If it is in your heart to assist me, I will be very appreciative, as will the Cuban people I'll be able to help. If you don't feel comfortable donating money, you can be supportive by sending good vibes!

XO ~ Jenny