Dear MetaMovements Friends and Family,
It was so meaningful for us to receive a steady flow of messages and calls from you during and after hurricane Irma. We want to thank you as well for all of your caring inquiries about the situation on the ground, and what our friends and family need to help them through this challenging time. We also have received many questions from all of you, and we are trying to research and answer them as quickly as possible, given the situation. With the intensity of everything happening right now, we have decided that the best way for us to do this is to respond through group emails and posts 1-2 times per week that answer 1-3 of your important questions. We have the first round of answers for you today.
1) WHAT CAN WE DO FOR OUR FRIENDS IN LA HABANA RIGHT AWAY? (SPECIFICALLY IN THE NEXT THREE DAYS!)
Since a few of us will be traveling down there on Wednesday to learn more about how we can help in the recovery efforts, and since many of you wanted to send something useful to the groups of artists and educators we work with right away, we called and asked what they needed most at this very moment.
The absolute most essential items they mentioned (meat, eggs, milk, fruit, potable water, building repair materials, and debris-removal help) are things we are not allowed carry on a plane with us, but they certainly are things that we could assist in purchasing while there on the ground during the next 2 weeks. If you would like to join us in helping our friends in this way, please let us know, and we can plan it. A group of us collaborating will help more than any of us could alone! We will be following the current guidelines regarding Remittances (what people in the U.S. are allowed to give to friends or family in Cuba). For example, it may be that 3 people’s remittances to some one could rebuild a collapsed roof, 2 people’s remittances to some one could clear a fallen tree and accompanying debris from their patio, while others’ remittances would help some families in getting enough nutritious food this month.
The next most important items were personal hygiene and cleaning items as well as certain types of non-perishable food (that could be easy to prepare without a full kitchen). We have an organized list, so if you are going to be in the NYC/NJ area, and you can shop and then bring things directly to us over the next few days, please let us know so we can plan together how to make this a team effort! If you are not in NYC, but would like to help in this way, please reach out to us, and we could connect you to some one here who is making purchases and you can help them with part of the costs.
2) WHAT ELSE ARE WE PLANNING TO DO TO HELP OUR FRIENDS ACROSS THE ISLAND IN THE FUTURE?
We are thankful that we have a way to help our Havana friends with their most urgent needs right now, but we are even more thankful that this trip will provide so many answers as to how we can help in more comprehensive ways in the coming months. We will be visiting our friends and collaborators to hear directly from them about what will help, what won’t help, and what (no matter how well-meaning) could actually cause them problems. We will hear their plans for the future, and see where we could support them. We are also honored to accept the invitation to meet with leaders in Cuba’s disaster response system (“Civil Defense”) and the Ministry of Tourism, along with representatives from over 50 other U.S. organizations that have travel programs in Cuba. We will send back updates from the ground as frequently as we can (depending on how we find the state of connectivity and communications!), and bring back a complete report from our experience.
Once we understand more fully what will help, as well as what the laws allow, we will share that information with all of you, and encourage people to join us in getting involved in the way that feels right to them.
Thanks again for all of your messages and phone calls about our friends in Cuba, as well as about our dear family and friends elsewhere who have been recently impacted by a disaster. It means so much to us (and to them!) that we all stay connected and continue to collaborate with one another to look for ways to help.
Please contact us right away if you would like to be part of helping when we go on this first post-hurricane trip (because we depart on Wednesday afternoon!). Please also feel free to contact us at any time to let us know that you want to be part of another one of our upcoming efforts.
We will keep researching and sharing information in the the coming days and weeks, and will focus on answering all of your important questions a few at a time, so that we can really do each one justice.
We will also keep creating space for people to come together and dance. From our experience, the more challenging things get, the more we need our community, and the joy we get from connecting to the music and moving together. The title of Alice Walker's recent book of poetry expresses our thoughts perfectly: "Hard Times Require Furious Dancing". You are welcome to join us--anytime you wish!