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Support for Santiago de Cuba

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Greetings everyone!  The continuing Covid situation in Santiago de Cuba has meant we have postponed our plans to start operating over there again by the autumn, and so we are still biding our time.   In the meantime, we wanted to provide information on how you can provide practical support for  Santiago de Cuba based friends and colleagues.

Before the pandemic,  Caledonia Worldwide was running regular group trips each year in Santiago, and our guides, tutors, homestay hosts and local team all depended on the payments we made locally. We significantly supported the local economy, putting money directly into the pockets of local families and businesses. Since March 2020, however, we have not been able to run any trips to Cuba and this, of course, has had a negative effect on the economic wellbeing of our Santiago de Cuba colleagues. We all thought that we would be back in Cuba and our trips would be running by late 2020, but here we are going into the autumn of 2021 and still waiting….

Prices all over Cuba have risen sharply over the last year and shortages of medicine and foodstuff are very common.  However, you can help provide support for Santiago de Cuba in the following ways.

  • If you like to send money direct to someone you know in Cuba, we would recommend that you register with www.duales.com. This is an online company which can arrange for funds to be transferred to Cuba. The advantage of this system is that you pay at your end with a debit or credit card, and just a couple of days later the equivalent amount of cash in local currency ($cup) is delivered to the door of the person you have nominated. You will need their full name, address and other details in order to have the funds delivered to them.  If you are not sure of the full name of the person(s) you would like to help out,  just ask us and we should be able to track them down for you if they have worked directly with Caledonia
  • Another option is to sign up with enviodinero.com – this also allows you to send money direct to someone, but you can also top up an AIS debit card in Cuba which can be used at ATM cash machines or in shops where only a debit card can be used. Check out more information on www.dinero.com
  • You could pay for a recarga (mobile phone and internet top up). This will only work if you have the mobile number of the person(s) you want to support.   Every 4-6 weeks the Cuban national telecommunications network provide double or triple top ups, so whatever you pay, your Cuban contact would receive three times the value of that amount on their phone.  This would enable them to keep in touch with friends and family and also to sell any extra minutes for cash, a common practice.  We use either Ding or Rebtel for this type of top up, and again you need to register on the relevant website  in order to process the transaction
  • Finally, if you cannot or don’t want to send money to anyone specific in Santiago, you can make a donation to our Support for Santiago fund (see below).  We  know many Cubans in Santiago de Cuba who do not have any overseas contacts or family to help them through this pandemic, and we know that any contribution at all will be really welcome.  We  have already received a very generous donation from someone who has been to Santiago many times on our dance holidays and that money is on its way to Cuba as we write.

If you would like to send us money to be fairly distributed to those who are really in need, you can do so via Caledonia Worldwide. 100% of the funds received by us will be sent over – you can be sure of this.

Our bank account details are:
Bank of Scotland
Sort code: 80 02 33
Account: 10030868
Account Name:  Caledonia Languages Abroad Ltd

For overseas transfers you may need one of the following:
IBAN  GB18BOFS80023310030868
BIC    BOFSGB21223


e.g. Santiago, Joe Bloggs

This means that we can identify the payment correctly.    Please also send us a quick email (info@caledoniaworldwide.com) to let us know that you have made a payment so that we can then confirm with you when it arrives.  There is no time limit for donations to be received and distributed.

Many thanks for whatever amount you can afford, and for your kindness to your friends and colleagues in Santiago at this very difficult time.


About the Author
Kath Bateman founded Caledonia in 1996 and still has a very active role in the company. As a linguist and avid traveller, Caledonia brings together many strands of Kath’s personal and professional interests. She is a Modern Languages and Tourism graduate and has worked as a tour leader and trilingual guide, ski rep and salsa teacher, cultural events organiser, salsa club promoter and English language teacher. She lived and studied in France and Austria and has travelled widely elsewhere in Europe, Latin America and particularly in Cuba. Kath is still very much involved in the business and is as motivated by what Caledonia does as when she first set up the company in the spare room at home all those years ago.