Grassroots Hurricane Aid for Cuba
Posted: 28 September 2008 05:41 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I have been thinking a lot about how ordinary Canadians can get goods that Cubanos need to them. The Canadian Red Cross has posted on their website that cash donations are the only option at this point because if we are to donate hard goods such as food and clothing it will cost far too much to ship. This position I understand and I understand the position that they will instead get the money into the Cuban economy via the Cuban Red Cross.

Now since I am the master of thinking outside the box and I know that ordinary Canadians would want to help, there had to be a grassroots way to compliment current efforts. One of the things that I and others have done on a frequent basis is use the second piece of check-in luggage as shipments of compassion, in my case medical supplies from my local hospital to be delivered to a local and trusted doctor. So I started off with the notion that a campaign could be started by recruiting Canadians traveling to Cuba for the next six months to take an extra checked-in bag. The logistics of organizing an effort like this would be difficult without organization. It then dawned on me that the Canadian Red Cross could pack the bags and then a Cuban Red Cross employee could meet you at the Cuban airport to receive the bags.

So, the next challenge I thought would be how would you get the word out and enable ordinary Canadians to help with this effort. You most certainly wouldn’t want to spend money advertising when that money could be used as a cash donation to help the Cuban Relief effort. It then became apparent that the big allies in such an effort could be the tour companies and the web based travel agencies booking people into the package tours destined for Cuba.

It is now the time in this process to ask you and all your friends to network of friends, ask the Canadian travel industry to adopt this effort. Each agency could post on their home page a link to another page posting the information people would need to know in order to participate.

Please add to this dialogue, I and our friends in Cuba will greatly appreciate your help.

Andrew Watson, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Posted: 28 September 2008 08:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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in another forum its been posted that westjet will allow an exra suitcase of humanitarian aid.  Might want to look closer into it.

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Posted: 28 September 2008 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hi Manfredz;
I did a search for WestJet and could not find it. Could you tell me a thread to go on. For now I will go to the WestJet site. Thanks for the tip.
Cheers, HavanAndrew

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Posted: 28 September 2008 09:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Manfredz,

It is always okay to post links to other sites so long as they contribute to the topic.

Andrew,

Best of luck with your efforts.

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Posted: 28 September 2008 01:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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http://c3dsp.westjet.com/guest/baggage.jsp;jsessionid=bZ2QLfGXGrGnpyyFGjrPRRXg8Rx1PvKdvt2M8pLvygbGzCJ4Yyn9!-365469809#excessBaggage

Heres what they say:

Checked baggage for humanitarian aid

Each guest may bring, in addition to the checked baggage allowance, one piece of baggage containing humanitarian aid items, at no charge. This piece must fall within the size and weight dimensions and should be packed separately from personal belongings.

Please note the following restrictions:

This is only available for flights departing from Canada only.
The piece must not exceed the size and weight dimensions shown in the Checked Baggage table above, and should be packed separately from personal belongings.
Excess weight fees may apply if applicable.

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Posted: 28 September 2008 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Manfredz;
A good idea for WestJet but they do not fly to Cuba.

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Posted: 28 September 2008 07:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Andrew, they dont have regular service to Cuba, but are a favorite airline for use use by several tour organizers, and a favorite carrier by many vacationers.

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Posted: 20 October 2008 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Andrew, I think this is an excellent idea, and I think it would be good to suggest to travelers that they check with their airline to ensure the extra luggage rule applies and find out about any other regulations that are required to ‘label’ it as humanitarian aid. But I think we also have an opportunity to take your idea to more efficient level.

First, what kind of aid should travelers fill their extra suit case with? It’s not enough to simply say ‘take medicines’ (unless someone is directly affiliated with health care, these items can be prohibitively expensive). I have sent emails to two Cuban friends to ask their advice. I’m currently awaiting their replies. Comments I’ve read about food shortage projections have me very worried. If this is as serious as some have suggested, perhaps prepackaged food would be the best aid ... it would be far more helpful than the school supplies and cosmetics that many travelers distribute. 

Secondly, how do travelers get this aid to the people who need it most? Simply taking it to the resort and handing it off to staff won’t ensure that it gets to the hardest hit areas, such as Puerto Padre, where even the one-and-only nearby resort is an hour away. I like the suggestion to connect with the Red Cross in Cuba, but their site has made a plea for cash donations, not in-kind support. Here’s what their site says about aid to Cuba:

“In-kind donations of food, clothing and other items, while well intentioned, are not the best way to help those in need. There are tremendous processing and transportation costs involved in shipping these items to beneficiaries. Local purchases of food and clothing are more culturally appropriate and effective. Red Cross supplies can be purchased in the immediate area, thereby reducing transportation costs. Cash transfers to the affected region provide the optimum flexibility to our Red Cross colleagues so they can meet the most urgent needs.”

...OK, I get what they’re saying - but if travelers take these items on the plane, they eliminate the transportation costs. And if certain items aren’t actually available for purchase in Cuba, wouldn’t it be helpful if thousands of travelers brought them along?

Third, how do we get the message out to travelers? I think people could be encouraged to add a small amount to the cost of their trip (say $50) that they donate directly to the Red Cross. And if there are items that would be especially helpful at this time, I’m sure they could be encouraged to bring them along on the plane. But how do we get the message out? Perhaps it could be done by making postings on travel review sites (such as Debbie’s Caribbean reviews and Trip Adviser), but to do this under the reviews for each resort would be rather time consuming. Anyone have suggestions about how to do this more effectively? Also, any suggestions about posting a message on other sites that travelers may read before they depart?

Any thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

Thanks,
Nancy

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Posted: 01 March 2009 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Publisher - 28 September 2008 09:50 AM

Manfredz,

It is always okay to post links to other sites so long as they contribute to the topic.

Andrew,

Best of luck with your efforts.

I TRAVEL TO PROVIDE HUMANITARIAN AID WITH http://WWW.VRB.ORG OR DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS . Anyone serious about helping our people should know that there is a right way and a wrong way to help. First travel there and make friends with org. and then get an address. Once that is done make sure that u know how much will be allowed and how often and in what form..NO US dollars

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Posted: 31 May 2009 09:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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We launched or aid to cuba site a while back.

Does anyone have a list of Cuba aid sites or other related content so we can post it at our site?

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