Going to Cuba on vacation? Bring a medical suitcase

The Chronicle Journal — The Newspaper of the Northwest | Letter to the Editor, Sept. 23, 2017

Re An Extra Suitcase: On your next vacation bring a bag of goodwill – Viewpoint, Sept. 17:

Residents of Thunder Bay travelling to Varedaro or Santa Clara, Cuba this tourist season should know that this initiative of carrying humanitarian supplies described in your op-ed is up and running in Thunder Bay.

Last tourist season Thunder Bay travellers carried over 250 pounds of medical and surgical supplies to Cuba for the Matanzas Children’s Hospital.

This included pharmaceuticals, enteral feeding pumps and supplies, dressings, ostomy supplies and much more.

Medical Equipment Modernization Opportunity, MEMO, supplies tourists with everything they require including the actual suitcase.

WestJet very generously allows tourists to take an extra suitcase of humanitarian supplies weighing up to 50 pounds. MEMO provides the filled suitcase ensuring that what is being delivered is what is needed.

In Cuba the tourist is met by Dr. Abel Santana, a pediatric surgeon who ensures the material goes where it is needed and is not diverted for personal gain or profit.

Those travelling with SunWing (who require a very complicated procedure to take a second suitcase free) are provided with a 10-pound shopping bag of supplies to carry in their personal suitcase.

A detailed list of contents is provided in the unlikely event Cuban Customs asks. In 10 years of doing this we have never had any serious problems with Cuban Customs.

Much of what is sent is unavailable to the hospital in Matanzas and allows Cuban doctors to save many children’s lives.

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