Humanitarian Assistance for the Kids of Bayamo, Cuba
My name is Philip Santiago and I am a senior at Palo Alto High School in California. I am raising money to help underprivileged kids at two daycares called “Aprendiendo a Crecer” and “Seguidores de Jesus” in the town of Bayamo, Cuba.
About Bayamo and the Daycares
Bayamo is a city of about 222,000 people in the east side of Cuba. This town in Cuba is meaningful to me because my Father’s entire family all come from Cuba. Also, my grandmother, Thelma Santiago, was born and raised in the humble city of Bayamo. My grandmother left Cuba in 1962, but she has kept in touch with friends in Bayamo, and she has visited it multiple times. My grandmother’s best friend from childhood, Caridad “Cacha” Tuñon, is the mother of a director of these daycares.
Cuba is a poor country. The average Cuban lives on around thirty US dollars per month (tradingeconomics.com/cuba/wages). Collectively, these daycares together take care of as many as 60 kids at a time with ages ranging from 3 years old to early teens. Many of these kids are from poor families, by Cuban standards. Some of these kids also have learning disabilities and other special needs. These daycares take care of these kids from early morning until late afternoon because their families are unable to take care of them during this time. These daycares feed each child two meals a day, take care of them if they are sick, and provide basic education.
I have met and spoken to the Ms. Idalia Tuñon Calas, the director of Seguidores de Jesus. I also spoke to Ms. Maria Cristina Tamayo, the director of Aprendiendo a Crecer. They have told me in detail about the kids’ needs. Their most important needs are educational materials and basic over-the-counter medicines (e.g. Benadryl, ibuprofen, etc.). These kids lack basic necessities that we take for granted in the US. In the past, this day care has received assistance from a non-profit international charity called Caritas Internationalis (www.caritas.org). However, during the last couple years because of Covid restrictions this charity has been unable to aid these kids. I want to help.
How We Do It
Shipping items to Cuba can be difficult. Together with the daycare directors, we have arranged a method of shipping which costs approximately $10 to $15 (USD) per pound. One of directors of these daycares will receive each package we send and confirm receipt. Given this shipping cost and their needs, below is a rough estimate of the breakdown of expenses of this charity drive:
- 70% of the funds will go toward medicines including: A generic form of Benadryl (diphenhydramine), cold medicines, antiseptics, and analgesics such as generic versions of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
- 30% of funds will cover shipping costs.
I will keep none of the money which I raise for the kids of Bayamo. All of the money will be spent in the United States of America on over-the-counter medicines, educational materials and shipping costs. The over-the-counter medicines will be sent to these kids in Cuba as humanitarian assistance. My initial goal is to raise $3,000 for the kids of these two daycares. Thank you very much for your donation, and please be sure it is going to a great cause.
Events We Have Organized
In December of 2021, I set up a stand in Little Havana in Miami, Florida (together with my grandmother Thelma Santiago) to collect money for Project Bayamo. We used this chance to spread awareness about the absence of medicine in Cuba and the life of the kids in our day cares. Additionally, I talked to the locals, mostly in Spanish, on how they can help the Cubans. We received a lot of positive feedback, help, advice, and donations.
My Trip to Cuba
In September of 2022, I traveled to Havana, Cuba and took with me over 100 pounds of medicine, vitamins, first aid supplies and educational materials purchased by Project Bayamo.
On the island, I met with Maydelin “Maye” Azahares, the Cuban Representative for Caritas Internationals of Havana. Ms. Azahares coordinates all of the Caritas programs for children in Cuba. She and Caritas agreed to ship the Project Bayamo medicine to Bayamo. The packages will be sent in a van and will be received by Cristina “Cristy” Tamayo, of Caritas, Bayamo. Ms. Tamayo will make sure that these donations are delivered to the two daycares in Bayamo that regularly receive our donations sent from the U.S.
I could not travel to Bayamo because of the current economic crisis in Cuba. The lack of reliable transportation, COVID-19 restrictions, and the Dengue epidemic there made it impossible for me to take the donations to Bayamo.
Meeting with Maydelin “Maye” Azahares
The visit to Caritas in Havana and my meeting with Ms. Azahares was a gratifying experience and offered first hand insight into the needs of the poor children all over the island. She explained the daily struggles of these children and how donations like those by Project Bayamo make a world of difference in the lives of these little ones.
Project Bayamo only supports 60 kids but there are many more in the world. For this reason I created a charity how-to manual to encourage others to start their own charity organization for children in need in other parts of the world. I distributed it to kids in my high school. As a result, two of my friends have already put what they learned from this manual into practice and have created their own projects. One is for soccer kits for children in Argentina and one for educating elementary school students on the importance of environmental activism.
I encourage you to make your own project.
During my visit, and unexpectedly, Ms. Azahares presented me with a Certificate of Appreciation for Project Bayamo in recognition of our donations and tenacious support.
Meet the Kids
Money Raised so Far:
Mini Havana Inc.
Marcos Valdes Ochoa
Luisa Salvador Ozgen
Suriani Binte Siad
Juan Jose Torres
And Thank You to All of the Anonymous Donors
Impact that We have Created
Together we have sent thousands of pills and other supplies to “Aprendiendo a Crecer” and “Seguidores de Jesus“.
Thank you in advance for any money that you can provide and be sure that it will go to a great cause.
If you would like learn more about Project Bayamo or if you would like to offer assistance outside of a PayPal or Venmo donation, please reach out using my contact information on the right.