Once a popular tourist destinations for American citizens, Cuba has been shrouded in mystery to most Americans ever since the U.S. imposed political and economic sanctions. As a result of the U.S. embargo that restricts commerce, Cuba has retained much of its Old World charm, free from consumerism.
Contrary to what most Americans think, Cuba is open and accessible, albeit more cumbersome for U.S. travelers. The recent easing by the Obama administration will allow for more U.S. travel to Cuba.
Cuba, located in the Carribean, is one of the largest islands in the world and home to 11 million people.
According to GoNomad, “Cuba remains largely unexplored and unspoiled by travelers, the majority of which stay on the Varadero peninsula east of Havana. The island is ruggedly beautiful, inexpensive, very accessible, safe and the people are among the friendliest in the Caribbean. If you are an explorer at heart and seek adventure in a friendly, uncomplicated, Old World setting, without hordes of tourists, put Cuba at the top of your list.”
The Cuban government has been trying to develop its tourism industry. The Miami Herald reports that Cuba receives about 2.5 million tourists a year, mostly from Canada, Europe, and Latin America. The Cuban government expects the number of tourists to rise by 10 percent this year, perhaps factoring more relaxed U.S. policies.
Imagine going into this enchanting country not only as a traveler but as a volunteer traveler, “pulling back the curtains on this Caribbean culture and get a clear look at the beauties, struggles, and determination of the Cuban people.” Organizations are beginning to offer more volunteer trips to Cuba.
One of the front runners is Globe Aware, a Canadian charitable organization. They offer many one-week volunteer vacations in Cuba that focus on cultural awareness, sustainability and immersion in the Cuban community.
Other organizations offering volunteer abroad opportunities in Cuba include:
Earthwatch Institute – A non-profit organization that support scientific field research and offer volunteers the opportunity to work with field scientists abroad.
Global Humanitarian Expeditions – A non profit organization that sends volunteers abroad to provide humanitarian assistance.
Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization – An agency that help advance justice for oppressed people.
photo credit: dariorug, vibrant cuba