If your going to Cuba, your fancy USD Dollars that you spend while you’re there are sure to be put to good use by casa hosts, taxi drivers, shop owners and other people who’s services you use. But you can also support Cuba by donating to or getting involved in one of these terrific organizations doing all sorts of projects for and in collaboration with Cuban individuals and non-governmental organizations.
CubaOne is all about reconnecting young Cuban-Americans in the U.S. with their Cuban heritage on the island to foster a better relationship between the two countries and mend the ties between families and countrymen that have frayed over years of political strife. They sponsor groups of young Cuban-Americans who travel to Cuba to reconnect with their culture, meet long estranged family members and in some cases carry out projects related to art, entrepreneurship, and other areas.
ArteCorte is a barber shop turned museum turned non-profit that now runs educational programs and puts on events in Havana. Located in the very northernmost (and very touristy) sector of Old Havana, the organization has a beauty school for young aspiring hair dressers, a bartending school, dance activities for seniors, and art programs for kids. Check out their website to donate, or sign up for their Airbnb Experience!
La Liga, which is a partner organization with ArteCorte, works to promote soccer in Cuba and advocate for social change in marginalized communities. They host soccer events and raise money to purchase equipment, repair playing areas, organize tournaments, and facilitate clinics for coaches and referees.
Inspire Cuba works on projects that help to rebuild trust and cultural connections between Cuba and the U.S. through collaborative partnerships. They recently completed a project in conjunction with CubaOne to donate 100 pairs of “Shoes that Grow” — a special shoe designed to be long-lasting and adjust to a child’s feet as they grow! One of Inspire Cuba’s members is Chris Vázquez (@cubanochris_), a gritty and passionate third generation Cuban-American who also hosts a fascinating Cuban history and heritage tour in New York City.
If animals are your thing, there are several groups that are working to help care for dogs and cats in Cuba. APAC’s mission is to “rescue the mistreated and love the abandoned” and they perform a variety of services like vet care, spay/neuter clinics, education advice to Cuban families with pets, and adoptions for both locals and tourists. If you visit Cuba and find a fur ball that you just can’t bear to part with, they will help you figure out how to get it home. CeDA Cuba (Cubans in Defense of Animals) focuses specifically on homeless animals and works to create more humane conditions for animals in Cuba. And if you want to support either of these orgs and see some great photos of dogs and cats, check out Cuba Dogumentary, run by professional photographer (and self-described dogtivist Emmy Park (@thedogsofcuba, @thecatsofcuba) who sells her fantastic Cuban dog and cat portraits and also takes donations for medical supplies that she regularly transports down to the island to donate to APAC and CeDA.
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