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Not Just Tourists Toronto Looking for Volunteers

Greetings to all of you from Not Just Tourists Toronto:

In March of 2004 NJTT sent its first suitcase of humanitarian medical aid to Cuba. Since then our organization has grown rapidly. Last year travellers took a record 335 suitcases of aid with them and we are on track to easily exceed that number this year. In addition we have sent some items in bulk. Two weeks ago we sent out approximately 1,000 kilograms that way. Those items will travel to Holguin, Cuba in a shipping container.

We’re once again very busy even though we are just entering the high travel season. All of our work has always been done on a volunteer basis and since we began we have attracted a lot of wonderful and dedicated people to do that work. We are now hoping to find still more volunteers.

We’d be content with just two or three hours per month of someone’s time although if you have still more time to give we’d be delighted. If you have been thinking about helping us out then hopefully this message will give you a bit of a nudge. If you are already volunteering with NJTT then perhaps you know of someone else who would also give us some of their time and energy. There are some tasks that can be done at home for those of you who live far from our Scarborough depot. You certainly don’t have to be a nurse or doctor either, though we’d love to find additional medical people to supervise our sorting/packing sessions.

If you can help then please send email to njttoronto@gmail.com or call us at
(416) 234 9658 and leave a message.

Bob Biderman for NJTT

What type of tasks could I do at home

Here’s a rough outline of three jobs, 2 are at home, one is “half” at home.

Travelers fill in the form on the NJT website, which feeds into a special NJT mail account. This account is monitored by an intake person(s).

These emails have to be “sanity checked”, the traveler contacted if needed. Maybe the request is inappropriate, and the intake person will explain this to the traveler. We have certain standards to maintain so that the whole operation is respected by Cuban authorities, for example we request a proof of delivery at an official hospital or clinic.

If OK, the intake person passes the email to a 2nd level email for travel coordination… the person who arranges a destination facility in Cuba… from a list and from other info. This person is the main contact for the traveler up to the trip date… keeping questions answered etc.

The travel coordinator assigns an NJT volunteer pickup person… to hand over the bag to the traveler.

The traveler contacts this person shortly before the trip. The pickup NJT volunteer schedules a pickup “just in time” for the trip (since materials are time-sensitive)… The traveler comes to the NJT pickup volunteers house to get the bag(s).

That’s the last “at home” job, the pickup volunteer. This person hands over the bag to the traveler, and answers their questions, has conversations that wander to Cuba of course… and how they wish they were going too :wink:

The job is also largely “at home” work.

But you have to judge when to go to the depot to pickup a supply of bags, in time to give them to the travelers assigned to you. The traveler is expected to come to your home at a mutually convenient time, you are not expected to take the bags to the traveler. Everybody’s a volunteer, we expect the traveler to “show willing” to handle a share of the logistics.

That’s a nutshell, if you want to followup contact as Bob suggests!

But for many people, it’s not THAT hard to get away from home to a packing session. You can help pack some suitcases for a couple of hours, under direction of a nurse or doctor. Meet people, learn something, and walk away without further obligations ;-).

I am interested in helping. I have sent an email off expressing my interest. Hope to hear from someone soon!

This organization definately does something special. I have taken suitcases to Cuba two times and it was definately worth it. The first time we took suitcases to the hospital in Cienfuegos. The head of the hospital left a meeting to meet with us and get the supplies. He showed us around the hospital as a way of thanking us for taking suitcases full of medical supplies to them.

Hola BobB

I will put a sticky on this for a few day so all forum members wishing to help out have the chance to read the thread.

Freedom Ryder 8-)…

With regards to an earlier comment on this thread, Not Just Tourists Toronto tells travellers transporting NJTT suitcases that they should not let Cubans that they meet know that they are going to be delivering a suitcase(s) of medical donations on our behalf. We want as much as possible to eliminate the possibilty of our donations “disappearing” and we also do not want our travellers to be in a position of being asked to share any of the contents of their suitcase with anyone.

Unfortunately in the past a few travellers have announced that they have our donations with them and then have then been asked to give away some of our medicines or supplies to their Cuban friends. This has put them in the uncomfortable position of having to try to explain that the contents of the NJTT bag belong to NJTT, not to the traveller, that they must go to a Cuban hospital or clinic, and that the traveller is not in a position to give those items to anyone other than the designated recipient.

BobB