Hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean earlier this month, including Cuba’s northern coast. It resulted in 10 deaths in Cuba, widespread damage, and extensive flooding in Havana affecting countless homes, hotels and businesses. The official Granma newspaper reported damage to a total of 4,288 homes, of which 157 were completely destroyed.

Due to the nature of the US-Cuba relationship, figuring out how to help Cuba during these times can be tricky. But here are 5 ways you can have an impact:

  1. Donate to MEDICC – Founded in 1997, MEDICC is a nonprofit organization based in Oakland, California that has worked to promote US-Cuba health collaboration and highlight Cuba’s public health contributions to global health equity and universal health. MEDICC partners with Global Links and PAHO (the Pan American Health Organization) to send vital supplies and furnishings to hospitals and other centers such as community clinics, maternity homes and senior homes in Cuban communities hardest hit by Irma. The program is unique because they only send what is actually needed, informed by on-the-ground assessments by Cuba’s health system working together with PAHO. Shipments are also US-government licensed. So your donation is legal, its use reliable, and will meet the needs of the most vulnerable. Your contribution will also help keep US-Cuba health cooperation alive.
  2. Organize an event – Start an in-person or online fundraiser to raise additional money and maximize your impact.
  3. Take a Reality Tour to Cuba and bring a donation with you. Check back with Global Exchange for most needed items and/or where money can best be given. You will learn about Cuba and at the same time help the island recuperate losses to its vital tourist industry.
  4. Push for an end to the blockade. Estimates put the financial impact of the US embargo on Cuba at nearly $700 million annually. The Cuban civil service is well organized and efficient in hurricane preparedness and recovery but lacks financial resources that could be alleviated by lifting the blockade. Contact your representative to make your voice heard.
  5. Share these steps with friends and spread the word!