First Two Medical Aid Shipments Headed to Santiago

Since late October, Global Links has been working with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)MEDICC and Cuban health officials to determine what assistance we could provide based on hurricane damage assessments. PAHO is the regional arm of the World Health Organization, and as such has representation in every country in this hemisphere.  Its sole purpose is to support public health, and disaster recovery efforts in Cuba are focused on rehabilitating the health sector.

Women repairing the street in Santiago.

Thanks to generous donors, Global Links will be loading the first two tractor-trailer shipments of medical aid destined for Santiago, Cuba, next week. We will be including hospital linens, anti-bacterial soap, basic medical, and infection control supplies.

PAHO reports that approximately 226,000 homes were damaged and at least 17,000 destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, which caused 11 deaths, affected three million people, and damaged 746 health facilities in the eastern region. The province of Santiago de Cuba is the most affected, with 369 damaged health facilities.

In Santiago de Cuba, 18 hospitals are damaged and are partially functioning. There is severe damage in the Psychiatric Hospital, which had to be evacuated; in the Pediatric Hospital, and Siboney Primary Health Center.

Help is still needed for Global Links’ next shipments of medical furnishings, equipment, and medical books to replace those damaged by the storm, along with additional essential supplies to enable the medical staff to provide care for their patients. The hospitals affected by the hurricane serve over one million people. Thank you for helping them to recover.

Crews work to rebuild the city.

Donate online, or make your check payable to: Global Links (simply note SANTIAGO in the Comments section)

Give by phone! Text GIVE 12012 to 80088 to donate $10 to Hurricane Sandy Relief for Santiago, Cuba. Message and data rates may apply. Only works for US mobile phones.

Hold a fundraising event to gather financial contributions from friends, members of your organization, co-workers and the general public. Contact us at: 412-361-3424 or by email if you would like a speaker in the Pittsburgh area or assistance in promoting your event.


After Sandy

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.


Santiago, after the storm

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.


The beautiful city of Santiago.