Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
It is not advised to give computerized devices, such as video games, or toys
which require batteries. These items will not likely be of much use as batteries are
rather expensive.
How To Give A Gift
Some guides suggest handing all donations directly to government offices or to
foreign aid organizations so that they can be distributed throughout the island to
those most in need. This route is extremely bureaucratic and there is no assur-
ance that the items will actually reach the intended recipients.
The best strategy is to go to a park in a poor neighborhood and just hand out
items to kids and parents. Even if the items are not used directly by the recipients,
they will be shared with other family members or sold to other Cubans at a low
cost. If you are staying at a casa particular, you can also give gifts directly to the
casa landlord. Either way, you will be directly and immediately helping the locals,
while making friends in the community.
Donating Medicine
You are free to bring up to 10 kilograms of medicine into Cuba, duty free. This is
an option that some visitors choose. There are many foreign aid organizations
which will freely provide packages of medicine and medical supplies for you to im-
port into Cuba, with specific instructions on how and where to donate the goods.
This is completely legal and is considered humanitarian aid. While this may be a
good option for some visitors, the need for additional medicine in Cuba is not as
pressing as some might suggest. While the Cuban government does not have
large stockpiles of drugs like most western countries, their medical system is rel-
atively well developed and there are enough medications and supplies for the
people who need them. An additional suitcase full of gauze and Advil wouldn't
hurt, but it will not be meeting a desperate need. More information about donating
medicine can be found online or at the following website:
Special Note: Although all donations are welcome, you should be aware that
donations of soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toilet paper are among the most
common. Most locals, especially those working with tourists, have more than
enough of these items. Furthermore, Cubans can purchase them very inexpens-
ively themselves.
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