We have another wonderful story from one of our wonderful volunteers and husband (Also volunteer) Dolores & Ron. They recently went to Holguin, Cuba. [NJT Manitoba]
”We were returning to a well known destination in Cuba (fly to Holguin and travel by bus to Guardalavaca resort) but this year we took 2 suitcases. We had no issues whatsoever with checking them in as Humanitarian with WestJet. We were travelling heavy with 2 big suitcases of our own, the 2 Humanitarian and 2 loaded carry-on, too. But we made it fairly easily.
The first week we took the first suitcase to the clinic in Guardalavaca. We asked for a horse and buggy at our hotel and told them the purpose of our trip so he brought the price down to 6 CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos) but we ended up paying him 10 CUC (5 for the driver and 5 for the horse). The community of Guardalavaca is about 2 thousand people and there could actually be more than one clinic but this was the one they took us to. I think it is like a walk in clinic. There was one Nurse and one Doctor there. They were quite delighted with the supplies we had and the Nurse was talking about specific people they could use some of the items for. She held up the box of examination gloves and stated (in Spanish) that this is something they just cannot get. Additionally I had brought them a Blood Pressure and Stethoscope, Reflex Hammer, Penlight and Oxygen Sat. Monitor. The Doctor almost fainted when she saw the O2 Sat Monitor!
The second week we took a trip to the small city of Banes which is about 30 kms from where we were staying. This time we were also visiting people in Banes, but we did negotiate a special Taxi fare again, just about 10 CUC less and I think we gave the driver that much in a tip anyway so it was worth his while. It was the same hospital we went to last year, a good sized teaching hospital (there were a bunch of medical students there) and this time we asked to go in to the door where the Cuban people go. We walked through their Emergency department and down some corridors which were clean and smelled like antiseptic but very rough compared to our standards here in Canada. Ron brought a picture of me with the Doctor and Nurse from last year so we were led right to that same Doctor. The Doctor was making rounds but he recognized us and he came away to meet with us. Took us down another hallway back to the area where they would bring the tourists.
We met a new nurse Roberto who spoke very good English, he informed me he had been trained in Intensive Care and just returned from working in Qatar. Anyway they were very pleased with the large selection of antibacterial dressing supplies, rolls of tape, gauze bandages., Respiratory supplies, all kinds of items, etc. Our friend Rose, a nurse from Edmonton, contributed another 2 blood pressure devices and 2 stethoscopes (which the Doctor pounced on right away to see if they were any good) also a big bag of Gauze Dressings and more IV catheters. I got their email addresses so we can communicate more and they would really love the O2 Sat monitor, too, which I might be able to send to Roberto with someone else that is going perhaps, if not I will bring it next year.
It is so gratifying to meet these people and contribute something to help them do their job, not to mention the people of Cuba that will benefit from our efforts. When you consider the amount of time and energy required on our part to take them the suitcases to the experience of seeing these things and meeting these people, the effort is small compared to the rewards of the experience. We are looking forward to our next chance to do this.
Ron & Dolores “