This morning, as we check the news for damage reports, contact friends and family in areas hard-hit by Sandy, and hope things don’t get too much worse, our friends in Cuba are a few days ahead of us, picking up and cleaning up. Sandy struck Santiago de Cuba five days ago, plowing into the second largest city in the country and destroying homes, ruining infrastructure, and causing 11 deaths.
It will take many months, if not years, for areas along the United States eastern seaboard to recover. The economic situation here and around the world has made things more difficult at home, and this storm has added to it.
So why is it important to reach out to Cubans, when we have troubles enough of our own? Because even with all the problems we have, we still have many more resources than most of the countries in this hemisphere – indeed in the world. I never looked at helping as an either/or kind of thing. We really can help the people here and the people there. We’re blessed to be able to do both.
Because of their geographic location and the nature of the storm, when and where and how it hit, and the continued U.S. blockade against Cuba, more Cubans are homeless. Major institutions such as the medical school in Santiago, and some of the hospitals have been badly damaged. As bad as it is in parts of the US, it is worse there.
For this reason, Global Links is working with MEDICC (Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba) along with the Pan American Health Organization, to provide both emergency and long-term aid to help the community recover from this latest disaster. Medical supplies, chlorine tablets to address a compromised water system, and hospital furnishings are being packed for shipment, along with a supply of crucial medical texts to replace those destroyed by the storm. Global Links is one of the very few organizations licensed by the US government to work in Cuba, and we have been working there since 1994.
I urge you to do what you can for everyone damaged by this terrible storm. Local organizations such as the Red Cross need and deserve our support. And, while you are giving, please support Global Links’ efforts to help Cuba recover from the storm too.
People often comment on how much smaller the world is now – enhanced communication techniques, incredible television images, and the internet bring a new awareness of conditions we may never see first hand. Cuba is a neighbor in need– a close neighbor – and they need our help now. Please donate through our web site, and write “Santiago” in the comment field.
If you want to hold a fundraiser to benefit our efforts in Cuba, we would be happy to help promote it. Please contact our deputy director for assistance.