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
Creating Horizons (Creando Horizontes) provides educational and cultural programming to Cuban the population in two 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.
This project enables seniors to work on their physical and mental skills and enjoy social contact with their peers and children. Young people participating in these projects have 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. This initiative works with Jewish and non-Jewish children, teenagers and seniors.
ORT Cuba hope to grow the Creating Horizons project to continue to fulfil a meaningful role in the community. Focusing first on those who are the future of the nation: our children; and second, with no less importance, on those who have lived the genuine history of a country: our seniors.
Today, Creating Horizons opens a new door to the direct beneficiaries of the project, the children and teenagers, between 4 - 16 years old, young adults and seniors. Creating Horizons already involves 300 students, which is 1% of the general population.
Cuban Jewish Senior Centre
The Cuban Jewish Senior Centre provides basic training and primary services to more than 90 seniors, aged 65 and over. ORT Cuba runs this centre together with a group of professionals and teachers who are responsible for all of the academic activities at the centre. Courses on offer include Cuban literature, ethics and image, arts, Jewish and general history.
During the summer vacation ORT Cuba develops a special inter-generational 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 Centre 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
Many community centres and children’s homes do not have the capacity to offer supplies and activities required to provide young people with a reliable infrastructure and good quality of life. The following initiatives work to acquire the resources to face this problem.
Basic Needs and Health Care to provide toys, clothes and other items as well as over-the-counter and prescribed medications which are unavailable due to high prices in the national market.
Supplemental Meals to supplement the basic meals available at the children’s centres due to the high cost of food in Cuba and the special needs of these children.
Building Support to repair the plumbing, windows and doors, power and cooling systems in the facilities (particularly important as temperatures climb to 120 degrees in the summer).
Art and Artistic Expression to acquire arts and craft supplies, musical instruments and other materials which are not easily available in Cuba to provide painting, sculpture, drawing classes and other kinds of art classes, along with dance and theatre classes to help children and teenagers express themselves.