Keeping Our Promise: First Hand Aid’s October Campaign


Cuban Ration Card

6 pounds of rice, 1 bar of soap
10 ounces beans, 1 tube toothpaste
3 pounds of sugar, 8 ounces of pasta
4 ounces of coffee, 1 pound crackers
2 cups of cooking oil, 10 ounces of fish
10 eggs, 8 ounces of cocoa
1 ounce of salt, 1 pound of meat
8 ounces of chicken mixture
30 bread rolls per month, 1 liquid soap

By Marc Bohland

Have you ever been required to use a ration card?

In Cuba, every family possesses The Card. Their ration card system allows them to obtain the food and staples that a Cuban family must learn to live on for a month.

Lately, many of these items are not obtainable in Cuba, even on the ration system. People, such as doctors, are expected to not only live on this ration but also to be alert at work  in order to help other people.

Fathers and mothers must constantly tell their children that some things are just not possible. Doctors have to tell patients and families that their outcomes could be better if only they had the correct medicine.

In addition, most Cubans only earn a wage somewhere between $6 and $20 to supplement this card and buy other daily needs and necessities. The reality is that Americans consume what’s on this list in calories in one day. One day. Even obtaining water has become a problem for Cubans. This hardship combined with the newest move to cut 500,000 Cuban jobs, to help the failing Cuban economy, is almost unthinkable.

It is for these reasons that First Hand Aid attempts to bring as many Cubans under our wing as possible. We need to provide the medicine for children and seniors, money, food, and goods to help make life bearable for them. These are the reasons why I continue to fight this battle for them.

Each time I leave Havana with a group of Americans, it is my wish that we leave behind a promise: a promise of hope. A promise that says we will return and we will continue returning with the medicine and the money that it takes to provide services of food and support.

I hear myself speak those words, but I know in my heart that it is a promise that comes with many prices. It comes with monetary prices, emotional prices, political prices, and possible the price of failure. In an effort to keep this promise, I request your help.

To this end, I have always kept a promise that I would only ask for support once a year. It’s called First Hand Aid’s October Campaign. Other than the few fundraisers we have, October is the only time of the year we ask for help and decide how much of our promise we can keep to the Cubans. At this time we hope to not only keep the promise, but also expand upon it to help other Cubans.

If you have been following any of the news stories about Cuba you will know that life there is more difficult that it has been for a very long time. Many Cubans are unemployed, or as Cuba would say, free to be independent workers now. That means no support and no way to buy food.

When I had the privilege of hosting a Cuban minister at my home for 12 days he was treated to dinner at a restaurant. That one meal cost us more than he makes in a year and certainly more than he could ever imagine spending on food. He speaks of the vast problems Cuba is now experiencing. My mind and heart are constantly focused on the struggle for Cubans to survive.

First Hand Aid hopes to continue to do great things and grow programs that already exist. I know times are tough and some of you are struggling also, but I consider that one restaurant bill I paid that night and know that I could feed a Cuban family for one month or more, or buy several doses of antibiotics for the hospitals. We appreciate anything you are willing to give.

To donate, please visit our website.

Or, mail donations to:
First-Hand Aid
P.O. Box 150171
Grand Rapids, MI 49515-0171

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One response to “Keeping Our Promise: First Hand Aid’s October Campaign

  1. Pingback: A Taste of Life in Cuba | First Hand Aid Blog

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