P2P is proud to partner with Pack for a Purpose and happily encourage our clients to help bring aid and assistance whenever possible to benefit the local communities we serve. As specialists in Cuba travel, we’re all too familiar with the needs of lesser developed countries where things are often difficult to find, including common over-the-counter and prescription medicines, home goods, school supplies and even some foods.
Our clients visit Cuba from around the world for a variety of reasons – the tropical climate, dazzling beaches, and vibrant nightlife make for a wonderful travel destination. Most of all, however, people come to see and experience a country trapped in time, the result of various socio-political economic factors over almost seven decades. The vintage automobiles and shabby chic buildings may make for wonderful photo ops, but they sadly highlight the vast needs of a country that is yearning to move into the first world economically.
When visiting from the United States, the most often used authorized travel reason is Support of the Cuban People, designed to ensure that visitors interact with locals, patronize their establishments and utilize their services in an effort to further civil discourse and develop the private economy. We look to take this a step further by educating our clients on the desperate needs in Cuba and having them “Pack for a Purpose” to bring in much needed items such as toothpaste, aspirin and other medications, crayons and pencils.
A great example of how we help make a difference is at one of the local synagogues in Havana, Patronato-Beth Shalom, which is a popular stop on our itineraries. The synagogue is a fully functioning house of worship, but more importantly, maintains its own makeshift pharmacy that serves both the small Jewish community as well as the community at large. Operating entirely through the generosity of our clients and other travelers, its inventory is often better supplied than most ordinary Cuban pharmacies. The pharmacy gives out aid to people in need free of charge and has been instrumental in bettering and in some cases, even saving, the lives of many, in no small part due to the contributions of our clients and many others.
Our clients are thrilled to participate in working with us and Pack for a Purpose and often ask us how they can do more through monetary donations or return trips to the island. They are the greatest proof that small spaces and little efforts do have a Big Impact on the lives of others.
As a result of the current health pandemic the limited resources of the Cuban community have been stretched thin and the needs of Cuba and the local communities in Havana will be even direr. We hope that when the crisis subsides and we return to a new normal, travelers will once again return to visit the island and work together with us and Pack for a Purpose to bring critical items to help replenish the depleted inventories of the various institutions and people we serve.