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STOCK THE BLOCK | CUBA

 

Stocking the Block of the Local Community in Cardenas, Cuba

After the nation-wide protests in Cuba on July 11, 2021, the world was forced to take notice of the hardships the Cuban people have been facing. Living in Cuba this past year (November 14 2020 - July 3 2021) I personally witnessed an increasing amount of daily struggle to meet basic needs. Food shortages on rice, flour, beans, coffee, chicken, cooking oil and milk. Many of these items were sold before by street vendors but now Cubans have to shop for many items on Facebook pages where many staples are being sold for 3-4 times the original cost. Other items such as soap, shampoo, detergent and toothpaste can now only be bought at grocery stores which have become cashless since September 2020. A debit card with foreign currency has to be used to shop there, and prices are in USD, much similar to our costs in Canada and USA. This makes it very difficult for elderly people or someone who doesn't have family or friends outside the island to send them foreign funds. 

On many of my visits to Cuba I bring with me at least one luggage full of donations which also is assisted by my generous parents. Even if you have money it is very difficult to buy many things there, they don't have the level of access as we do here in North America. Anything you need you just go to a shop or order online here in Canada. Shopping in Cuba is a marathon sport at times, takes a lot of patience and time. With donations of over $4000cad in the last couple years from my parents and their friends, me and my husband Danny have become volunteer Charity Shoppers. We have been able to buy much needed items for people in need as Cardenas has a lot of stores, it is one of the biggest cities in Cuba. Most of these purchases were donated to local Nuns who run small charities in Cardenas and in Manguito (a small nearby town), they directly help provide food, medicine, and household products to the elderly, sick, jobless and families with small children.

STOCK THE BLOCK

WHO ARE WE HELPING?

There are many people on my husbands block in Cardenas, the local community, who are having financial difficulties now. Some have lost jobs, some are waiting to get their job back once the tourism industry is back to normal, some are elderly who can't meet all their needs with their monthly pension, some have family in US who can't send money now due to blocks, these are all neighbors. If help becomes large enough we will expand to other nearby blocks.

 

HOW TO HELP

Financial donations can be sent by e-transfer (within Canada) to aga@agaazra.com, please state in the Notes "Cuba" or "Stock The Block". For international donations, please contact me at info@agaazra.com. Money will be sent to Cardenas, Cuba via AIS (and one more method we need to figure out) online to my husband Danny who will be doing the shopping with the help of his Aunt and doctor friend. Until I (or my parents) travel to Cuba again, funds will be send online.

FULL TRANSPARENCY

I will be sharing all purchases and sums on here as well as social media, Danny will also send me photos and videos as they go along. Feel free to ask me anything! Contact me

 

WHERE IS THE MONEY GOING?

Items will be purchased through local methods in bulk or at the grocery stores if possible. Rice, beans, cooking oil, and toilet paper can be bought through Facebook (buy + sell group) now, while household items and imported goods such as pasta, sauce, canned food and juice are available at grocery stores. Fresh local and in-season fruits and vegetables remain available from street vendors. Phone credit will also be purchased where needed.

If you are curious about my story and more about Cuba, check out my blog or join me on Instagram!

MUCHAS GRACIAS!

Aga y Danny

AVERAGE COSTS | As of July 2021

Items Available from Street Vendors, Government Shops or Facebook Buy + Sell

Prices in CUP: Cuban National Peso (vs Canadian Dollar for reference)

Rice (per lb) = 50cup/$2.60cad 

Black Beans (per lb) = 50cup/$2.60cad

Cooking Oil (1L) = 280cup/$15.50cad

Milk Powder (500g) = 300cup/$15cad

Pork (per lb) = 100cup/$5.25cad

Fish (per lb) = 80cup/$4.20cad

Eggs (each) = 9cup/$0.47cad

Garlic (strand) = 250cup/$13cad

Onions (strand) = 100cup/$5.25cad

Bananas (bunch) = 15cup/$0.80cad

Avocado = 20cup/$1cad

Cucumber (bunch of 5) = 20cup/$1cad

Salt (per kg) = 75cup/$4cad

Bread - Buns (x10) = 60cup/$2.50cad

Cell Phone Credit - Calls + Data (1 GB) = 100cup/$5.25cad

Wifi Cards (per hour) = 25cup/$1.50cad

 

Cashless Grocery Stores

Prices in USD

Pasta (50-100g) - $0.60 - $1

Tomatoe Sauce - $0.60 - $2

Canned Fish - $2 - $12

Canned Meat - $1.50 - $2.50

Soap (bar) - 0.75 - $1

Shampoo (750ml) - $7

Laundry Detergent (per 100g) - $2

Toothpaste - $1.50

Toilet Paper (per roll) - $0.50

Average Cuban Salary = 1500 - 3000cup/$80 - $160cad

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