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.

LOCAL MANGO TREE
LOCAL MANGO TREE

In season in the Spring May 2021

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COOKING OIL, SHAMPOO + COFFEE
COOKING OIL, SHAMPOO + COFFEE

June 2021

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CUBAN MANGO
CUBAN MANGO

May 2021

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DONATIONS FROM TORONTO AND LOCAL GOODS
DONATIONS FROM TORONTO AND LOCAL GOODS

July 2019

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ME AND ROCKY
ME AND ROCKY

A special bond with this little Cuban fur son. June 2021

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LIST OF NEEDED MEDICAL SUPPLIES
LIST OF NEEDED MEDICAL SUPPLIES

Created by our doctor friend, a list of needed hospital supplies and medicine that are currently lacking in Cuba. January 2021

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DON RAMON RESTAURANT
DON RAMON RESTAURANT

One of the few restaurants open for take-out during the restrictions. June 2021

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LAUNDRY DETERGENT
LAUNDRY DETERGENT

June 2021

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TAKING SISTER ANNA TO LUNCH
TAKING SISTER ANNA TO LUNCH

Vives Garden Italian Restaurant in Cardenas January 2020

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LOCAL BANANAS
LOCAL BANANAS

May 2021

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CREATED BY ELSA MORA
CREATED BY ELSA MORA

New York based Cuban Artist

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TOILET PAPER, SAUCE, CANNED FISH + PASTA
TOILET PAPER, SAUCE, CANNED FISH + PASTA

June 2021

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LOCAL CUBAN COFFEE
LOCAL CUBAN COFFEE

My husband had to buy this coffee on a Facebook page as there were no more in the shops, people buy in excess then sell on facebook for 3-4 times the price. In the store $2.50usd, on Facebook $14usd. May 2021

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BLACK BEANS IN BULK
BLACK BEANS IN BULK

June 2021

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ELECTRONIC GRILL
ELECTRONIC GRILL

One of these was donated to the charity in Manguito, purchased in a Cardenas electronics store. June 2021

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RICE IN BULK
RICE IN BULK

June 2021

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FEMININE HYGIENE FROM VIETNAM
FEMININE HYGIENE FROM VIETNAM

Its very hard to find these products in stores so my husband also had to buy these for me on Facebook for $3usd.

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SORTING THROUGH MEDICAL SUPPLIES
SORTING THROUGH MEDICAL SUPPLIES

A local doctor friend and Sister Anna organizing and dividing hospital and medical supplies between Cardenas and Manguito. January 2021

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SISTER ANNA PICKING UP DONATIONS
SISTER ANNA PICKING UP DONATIONS

Items purchased in Cardenas heading to Manguito. January 2021

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FLAMBOYANT TREE
FLAMBOYANT TREE

One of my favourite trees ever! In full bloom in the Spring. May 2021

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CUBAN NATIONAL PESOS
CUBAN NATIONAL PESOS

Donation money used for purchasing items as well as direct cash. January 2021

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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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