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Getting gifts to the right people

Summerland, BC
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16 posts
23 reviews
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Getting gifts to the right people

I will be going to Varadero in December, and will be taking things that are badly needed there. Will also take cash, to help where needed. What I need to know is if anyone can tell me the best means of getting both gifts and cash to the people who really need it. I know the hotel service people are the richest in the country, so would like to get out to the outlying areas, but don't want to just stop in the street, and start giving things out like I was Santa Claus, or something of that nature. If I was to give a gift of cash to a catholic church, would it actually go to help the people, or would it be added to the gold already dripping from the church itself? Hope that doesn't sound too cynical, but that is what I noticed so frequently in Mexico, is that the people going into the church, and undoubtedly giving money to the church, were extremely poor, while the church itself had the absolute best of everything, in the way of elaborate decoration.

Eleuthera
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3,235 posts
127 reviews
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1. Re: Getting gifts to the right people

I don't think that you are being "too cynical" at all and you have a legitimate question and concern. Personally, I just give stuff to people I already know well and let them deal with it as they see fit .....and also buying local goods whether it be clothes or souvenirs to bring back home is my way of contributing. Some on here will suggest that you give to the local church but I am just as cynical as you on that.

Regina, Canada
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417 posts
14 reviews
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2. Re: Getting gifts to the right people

Commend you for this though...

"...but don't want to just stop in the street, and start giving things out like I was Santa Claus, or something of that nature."

... since unfortunately it does happen far too much.

There is a link on the right side of the page that addresses this misplaced gifting also.

I think there are a couple of churches that get regularly mentioned on these forums, sorry I don't know them but others will probably chime in.

At the end of the day, the poorest people in our own countries are poorer than the poorest in Cuba (where the basics like subsistence food and a roof over your head are provided nearly free).

Calgary, Canada
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19,551 posts
2 reviews
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3. Re: Getting gifts to the right people

I don't think you're being cynical either, some of the crap I've seen the church do in Central America and here in Colombia is ridiculous. Also, good on you for being a responsible, common sense visitor who respects the local culture and people - instead of being yet another clueless Santa Claus.

That said, for a first time visitor I highly recommend St. Elvira’s Church on 1st Avenue in Varadero.

Father Bastarache passed away a little more than a year and a half ago but he initiated a very efficient and well respected system of distributing supplies to the people who needed it most, irregardless of church affiliation. I have not met his replacement - Father Marcoleta - but Cuban friends who I trust in Varadero say he is continuing Father Bastarache's work with the same honesty and integrity.

Donations are generally accepted weekdays between 9:00am and Noon. I believe their number is still 561-2349, perhaps someone else can confirm. None of the church staff speaks English except the secretory, Luis.

Hopefully someone with recent experience can confirm if this info is still accurate.

Have fun.

Cheers,

Terry

Summerland, BC
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16 posts
23 reviews
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4. Re: Getting gifts to the right people

Thanks so much for the info, Terry. That is precisely the kind of info I have been searching for. Yes, hopefully someone can confirm that the information is still correct, as I am copying it out, and putting it with hotel confirmations, etc. Thanks again.

Vancouver
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5,614 posts
65 reviews
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5. Re: Getting gifts to the right people

For a first time visitor you have much insight. Im of a different faith (my guess) and brought OTC meds down to the synagogue in Havana. OMG the pantry was like a pharmasave or shoppers drug mart. They dispense to those who need it regardless of faith....I know that the churches do the same. They can only do this if visitors are philanthropists like you.

I think there needs to be an "Inbetween" non religious gift depot where one could donate cheeze whiz.

6. Re: Getting gifts to the right people

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Removed on: 03 September 2012, 14:43
Burlington, Canada
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7. Re: Getting gifts to the right people

I've always thought it would be a good idea to have the public relations manager at each resort accept donations for the very poor in Cuba for distribution. It would be great if this idea could actually be supported by the Cuban government. But it would be difficult to insure that this system wouldn't corrupt itself into just another facet of the bolsa negra.

I know this type of system CAN work...the public relations manager at the resort I visit in Santa Lucia has been collecting and distributing donations to the very poor within the interior of Cuba for years through his church mission. I know he's on the level about this too ~ he does a great job and he's an inspiration to everyone for his dedication to helping his people.

Terry

Ajax, Canada
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461 posts
25 reviews
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8. Re: Getting gifts to the right people

We also went to a resort in Santa Lucia and the PR guy took our things to his church and they take them up into the mountains and distribute them. He even took a picture of him giving the items to the church and brought us a copy. At least we know it got there.

I agree you don't want to stand on the street and hand it out as this causes beggers. Unfortunately we as tourist have caused this in many Countries including some areas of Cuba. Not that we have meant to do this.

Good Luck to you and hope you find a suitable place to take your items. I am sure you will and also enjoy your vacation. We will be there at the end of October.

9. Re: Getting gifts to the right people

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Removed on: 03 September 2012, 14:52
Edited: 03 September 2012, 14:52
Victoria, Canada
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65 posts
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10. Re: Getting gifts to the right people

The richest people in Cuba are not resort workers. The richest are those that receive money transfers from family in the USA / Canada / Europe etc. Churches and hospitals is where my gifts go.