On Sunday 27th Jan, a deadly tornado ripped through Havana, Cuba, tearing apart the lives and homes of thousands. We are absolutely devastated by the impact it’s had, and would be grateful if you’d join us in SPONSORING 6 FAMILIES who desperately need our help to rebuild their lives.
This will be a DIRECT and TRANSPARENT donation campaign, where funds will be taken in cash to Cuba by my mother (Marisela Cruz Suarez O’Hana) and distributed both by herself and by my cousin (Julio César Paz) - with video documentation for your peace of mind.
Scroll down for:
- EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
- THE FAMILIES WE'RE SPONSORING (Videos & Testimonies)
Photo of Luyanó taken by my cousin
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The 6 families have been conscientiously chosen by my cousin (Julio César Paz), who has been on-the-ground, meeting with victims and clearing up debris in his badly-hit neighbourhood (Luyanó, Havana). Details of each family are featured at the bottom.
- Neighbours were consulted to determine which were the most vulnerable families we could help. We have tried to weight the selection towards victims from very low-income households without family support abroad; with uninhabitable living conditions; and with children / sick family members / elderly family members.
- The money will be handed over DIRECTLY to the victims in CASH. My mother (Marisela Cruz Suarez O’Hana) will be taking the funds with her to Cuba in mid-February.
- We will post video documentation of the money being handed over, as well as video updates on the families’ progress.
- We believe that it is not our position to dictate how the families spend this cash. Each family has unique circumstances and will know best whether to prioritise the purchase of building materials, electrodomestic items, mattresses, blankets, food or medication etc.
Recent GoFundMe campaigns for Cuba have been frozen due to the US embargo. Is this campaign at risk of being subject to the embargo?
No. GoGetFunding is a UK-based platform, and I have received official confirmation that this campaign will not be subject to the US embargo.
Can I make a donation even after the funds have been sent to Cuba?
Yes. I have more family members travelling to Cuba in the next coming months, who we will be able to safely and securely send extra donations with.
Is there an official Charity or NGO that I could donate to instead?
Yes, but all official charity campaigns and foreign NGO initiatives are set up via the Cuban government, specifically through MINCEX (Ministry of Foreign Investment and Commerce). Our personal campaign ensures 100% transparency and directness by cutting out the middlemen.
MEET THE FAMILIES WE'RE SPONSORING:
1. The Rosales Family
Head of the family: Israel Rosales Méndez
Total: 11 people
Israel and his wife were at home with their 5 children and 3 grandchildren when the tornado came and tore their house apart. Israel’s 37 day-old son (Israelito) was miraculously rescued from under the rubble, whilst Israel was left with damaged ribs. They have all been discharged from hospital and all 11 of them are currently living in Israel’s brother’s house. At night, they take turns sleeping at different friend’s houses, as there is not enough floor space at their brother’s. Literally everything they had was destroyed and swept away by the tornado – they have NOTHING. The minors in the family are aged 3, 4, 6, 11, 13, 16, and 18 respectively.
2. The Escobar Family
Head of the family: Marelis Escobar Rojas
Total: 5 people
Marelis is the primary carer of her 79 year-old mother in-law (who suffers from Alzheimer’s) and her 78 year-old father-in-law, as well as her daughter and grandson (who is just a month old). When the tornado passed through, it tore off the roof of her house and swept away almost all of her belongings. The tornado also damaged her neighbour’s house, leaving a wall in danger of collapse onto her own house – something which could really worsen an already dire situation. Her in-laws and baby grandson are currently staying at a relatives’ house, as their home is uninhabitable. Marelis’ only hope is to improve her house a little bit so that her daughter and grandson can return home with her. Marelis found it particularly difficult to relate all of this to my cousin – she has been very emotionally affected by this and was choking up with tears.
3. The Acosta Family
Head of the family: Juan José Acosta Acha.
Total: 4 people
Juan José lives with his wife, Yamile, his 22-year-old son and a 37-year-old nephew. Yamile and Juan José were at home when the tornado passed through – at first they thought it was a bomb or an aeroplane. Their roof was torn off and several walls collapsed, trapping them both under the rubble and killing their pet dog. Although the firefighters came to check if they were ok, they were left in the rubble as their had now urgent injuries. It was not until the next day that they were rescued by a neighbour who managed to get them out from under the rubble. Their roof was completely torn off, and all their belongings were destroyed. Several foundational walls of the house were also severely affected. Their son has been particularly emotionally affected by this, as he thought his parents had died when he arrived home and saw the state of the house.
4. The Brito Family
Head of the family:Yunaisy Brito Ramírez
Total: 2 people
Yunaisy is a single mother who lives alone with her severely asthmatic 6-year old daughter. The tornado damaged the roof of her bedroom, allowing water to drip in, and also tore off part of the roof from her kitchen. Her windows were also severely damaged. This is a particularly critical situation for Yunaisy, as her asthmatic daughter is now at high risk due to her home being exposed to the elements. Yunaisy also feels very alone in caring for her daughter, as her mum recently died.
5. The García Family
Head of the family: Milagros Diana García Díaz
Total: 12 people
Milagros lives with her grandmother, her mother, her husband, her 2 children, her aunt and uncle and their three children. Milagros was at home ironing her children’s clothes when she first heard the tornado. Next thing she knew, a door snapped off and threw her across the room, hitting her on the head. She says it felt like a pulveriser or an airplane motor engine grinding through the room. She ran across and hugged her grandmother and mother until it was over. The tornado tore their roof off almost entirely, destroying everything within the house. The building next door also fell onto their house. The children in their household are very young - aged 1, 3, 6, 7, and 12, respectively.
6. The O’Farrill Family
Head of the family: Digney Lemus O’Farril
Total: 3 people
Digney is a single mother who lives with her two daughters, aged 1 and 8 respectively.The tornado severely damaged the roof of her house, and one of the walls is at high risk of collapsing – held together by a single wooden stick. Her 1 year old daughter’s finger was damaged by a block that fell on her during the tornado. They are currently sleeping on the floor of a neighbour’s house, along with a large number of other neighbours whose houses became inhabitable. She says there is not enough space to sleep at her neighbour’s at night, and is very upset that her only option is to remain living in a place that is extremely unsafe for her daughters.
A HUGE THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!!! #FUERZAHABANA