ORT Cuba works with both the Jewish community of the island, and with the general Cuban population. The programs which ORT Cuba runs are detailed below.
Holocaust Education in Cuba
ORT Cuba was an instrumental partner in setting up a Holocaust exhibition in the Cuban capital of Havana in 2011. It is the country's first such educational resource, and an important development given the non-Jewish population’s extremely limited knowledge of the subject. It also enables the island's resurgent Jewish community to better understand its roots.
The exhibition combines text, photographs and video footage, and is entitled "We Remember - The Holocaust and the Creation of a Living Community". It examines the conditions in Europe which forced some 11,000 Jews to seek refuge in Cuba between 1933 and 1942; it looks at the experiences of those refugees, most of whom left for the United States, and it explores the contributions made by the Jews who remained in Cuba to the country's political, social and economic development.
The major partners who joined forces with ORT Cuba in setting up the exhibition were the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Jewish Cuba Connection.
Creating Horizons A Project for a Better Future
It is is a project that intends to have a direct impact on Jewish and non-Jewish children, teenagers and seniors. Participating in this project will give children the chance to develop skills and acquire knowledge in areas such as arts and languages, which constitutes a contribution to the comprehensive education they need. On the other hand, seniors will be able to work on their physical and mental skills and enjoy social contact with their peers and children as well.
Creating Horizons (Creando Horizontes) provides educational and cultural programming to Cuban children and teenagers, and it is currently based on three different locations in Havana. Along with developing programs in several neighbourhood centres, Creating Horizons also works with children’s homes to share expertise and supplies. Both these centers and children’s homes nowadays receive support and would benefit from:
Cuban Jewish Senior Center
The Cuban Jewish Senior Center provides basic training and primary services to more than 90 seniors, aged 65 and over. ORT Cuba runs this center together with a group of professionals and teachers who are responsible for all of the academic activities at the center. Courses on offer include Cuban literature, ethics and image, arts, Jewish and general history.
During the summer vacation ORT Cuba develops a special intergenerational summer program for children and teenagers, together with their grandparents.
Vocational computer training
In 2012, ORT Cuba opened a new computer classroom in the Joshua White Community Center in Arroyo - the most socially and economically needy municipality of Havana. 250 students at a time can enrol on a three-month training course which covers the following topics:
- Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Power Point, Access)
- Web design
- Graphic design
- Video and audio editing
Art and Artistic Expression Program
The centers and children’s homes do not have the capacity to offer painting, sculpture, drawing classes and other kinds of art classes, along with dance and theater classes to help children and teenagers express themselves. Jewish Cuba Connection will seek partners to acquire arts and craft supplies, musical instruments, leotards, tights, and dance shoes, and other materials -all of which are not easily available in Cuba.
Basic Health Care and Other Needs Program
The centers and children’s homes have little access to over-the-counter and prescribed medications, many of which are often unavailable, including multivitamins that growing children need. They also have limited access to toys, clothes and some other things due to high prices in the national market.
Supplemental Meal Program
While these centers and children’s homes offer basic meals to kids, these meals need to be supplemented, especially given the high cost of food in Cuba and the special needs of these children.
Building Support Program
The majority of these centers and children’s homes have physical infrastructures in need of repair, given inadequate (or no) plumbing, missing windows and doors, uncertain sources of power provided by some blackouts and no fans in the facilities (with temperatures climbing to 120 degrees in the summer).