Volunteer Work Brigade

In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of Che´s death 
ICAP is organizing an International Brigade

"ALONG THE PATHS OF CHE"
October 1 to 15, 2017

14 nights (5 at provincial hotels, 9 at Camp Mella located 45 kms West of Havana)

Registration: open until September 10, 2017 (or Camp Mella reaches its capacity) 

Cost: CUC 597 (including accommodation, meals, and transportation to activities). 
Brigadists pay for their own airfare. 


Plan:


CEREMONIES:
  • “Por los Caminos del Che”   (March)
  • 50th Anniversary of the murder of Che in Bolivia
  • 148th Anniversary of the Cry of Independence
MEETINGS WITH COMBATANTS WHO ACCOMPANIED CHE: 
  • Santa Clara
  • Las Villas - Fomento munir
  • Sancti Spiritus
VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES:
  • Farms near CIJAM
  • Industrial facility
  • Factory
PLACES of INTEREST:
  • Che Memorial and Mausoleum
  • Armoured Train
  • Pinar del Rio
  • El Morro & Military Complex
  • Che Guevara Studies Centre
  • Guinia de Miranda
  • Hanabanilla Hotel
  • Sancti Spiritus
  • University of Los Villas
  • Youth organizations
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Since 1993, hundreds of people living across Canada, of various ages, skills and backgrounds have enjoyed an exciting and informative three-week stay in Cuba with the Ernesto Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade.

The trip provides the opportunity to look at the gains and victories of the Cuban revolution, as well as see Cuba's challenges first hand, particularly the impacts of over 50 years of illegal economic blockade from the United States. The Che Brigade fulfills two main goals. On the one hand, it is a great way to show support for the struggle of the Cuban people to maintain their independence. On the other hand, it is an important opportunity for people from Canada to know and understand the dynamism of all aspects of life in Cuba.

The Cuban people, who are committed to maintaining their revolution and its great gains, receive the Brigade participants, known as "Brigadistas", with warmth and friendship. The fact that Brigadistas come from Canada to share friendship, reaffirms to many Cuban people that the social change they are carrying out is important, not only for their country, but for the entire world.

The Che Brigade combines volunteer work with cultural, social, economic and political encounters in an educational context. 

Join us!
This is a unique chance for people from Canada to support Cuba by volunteering on an agricultural field, painting a school, or any other projects alongside Cubans. We hope you will join us for the 2017 Che Brigade!
Every year the Che Brigade includes:
  • Working with Cubans
  • Talks on Cuban economy, democratic system, and health
  • Visits to places of interest (schools, hospitals, factories, museums, etc.)
  • Opportunity to explore the host city as well as Havana independently
  • Visits to provincial centres
  • Visits to Cuba's famous beaches
  • Participation in cultural events
  • Dance lessons



"El trabajo voluntario es una escuela creadora de conciencia"
"Volunteer work is a school for building consciousness" 
~ Ernesto Che Guevara

Dear CNC member groups,
The 24nd Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade took place from April 30th to May 12th, 2016 and was once again a great success. The group size was much smaller than usual this year, for reasons that will be discussed, however there was strong group cohesion and high participation from all brigadistas. The group consisted of 25 members from 4 provinces and 2 members from outside of Canada. The identified genders were 12 women and 13 men. 19 had been to Cuba before, with 8 of those on a previous brigade. The age ranged from 19 to 80 with 12 members under the age of 30 and an average age of 47.3. CNC groups that sent members are (in no order) the Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC), CCFA Toronto, CCFA Winnipeg, Manitoba-Cuba Solidarity Committee, the Communist Party of Canada, the Young Communist League, and the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).
Ontario - 13
British Columbia - 7
Manitoba - 2
Québec - 1
W. Australia - 1
Washington (USA) - 1
The brigade stayed at the CIJAM camp in Caimito municipality, Artemisa province, for the first half of the trip. The stay here was enjoyed by all and there were not any major problems.
The brigade then continued to Cienfuegos province, where we stayed at the hotel Passcaballo in Cienfuegos city. Our stay here was very nice and provided a good departure point for our activities in the province and our day trip to Santa Clara, where we were greeted by the Villa Clara province's ICAP representative. On the first morning in Cienfuegos we were welcomed by the provincial ICAP body with a wreath laying in the Plaza de Armas.
Like in past brigades, there was a focus on educational visits and solidarity-building activities. These were emphasized through our tours to local institutions like schools, hospitals, work places, neighbourhoods, and historical sites. This year we arrived the day before International Worker's Day on May 1st, so we spent our first day getting comfortable at the camp and preparing for the excursion to Havana. The May 1st march was enjoyed by all as we experienced the Cubans passion for building their revolution and the support they have for it. The May 2nd International Meeting in Solidarity with Cuba was very educational for brigadistas as they learnt of the worldwide struggles in solidarity with Cuba and how much good Cuba has done on the international frontier.
There were 5 mornings volunteer work, with two taking place at a cooperative micro-farm near the camp, one day landscaping around the camp itself, and the two latter days at a large farm in the valley near Cienfuegos. On two days we were joined by members of the FMC and LJC, respectively.
This was the second year that the brigade had been changed to a two-week program from a three-week program. The length was enjoyed by all however it felt that with the total trip being 12 days, an extra 2 days would have been perfect, however with the Cubana flight schedules we had to settle for a shorter trip. Nonetheless, all important aspects of the program were included this year. Considering that the purpose of shortening the trip was to attract more students and workers, there needs to be more reflection on this change as we build our brigade participation numbers and receive more feedback.
One issue that was brought to my attention was that ICAP donations must be given through me, the coordinator, so that donations can be properly tracked upon arrival in Cuba and be ensured that they go to the proper person who is responsible for taking donations.
Accessibility during the brigade for our senior participants was met to their satisfaction except one part when the flat-bed truck transferring our brigadistas to the farm through a dirt road did not have enough front seats for the 3rd member who could not climb the back of the truck. With the brigade size increasing, more participants will need to have their accessibility needs met, and this must be coordinated with ICAP and Amistur.
Going further, ICAP will be providing the rough draft of the 2017 program by June, 2016, and promotional materials are already being produced. With the 25th anniversary of the brigade next year and a strong program itinerary, there is a high expectation from ICAP and from the brigade coordinator that each CNC group prioritizes the brigade. The proposal is for the brigade to visit the Eastern provinces, flying into Santiago or Holguin before going to Guantanamo, then Baracoa, and ending in Santiago, staying at each city for 3-4 days. The brigade will take place during the same time period to be in Guantanamo for International Workers' Day. The following year the plan is to move the brigade to the summer time, and perhaps returning to the beginning of May for the 30th anniversary.
ICAP noted that Canada sends many tourists but that's not represented in the brigade size. They hope to have more than 50 people on the next brigade. To ensure a strong brigade turn out, CNC groups should prioritize the brigade in their plans of activity, starting from this summer. Brigade-specific events such as report backs and info nights, along with promoting the brigade at other events, can increase the visibility of the brigade and encourage people to register. Groups should attempt to send an executive member on the brigade, and set a goal of number of registrants from their respective town. It was also noted that a promotion campaign that ties in with the campaign to return the Guantanamo Naval Base to Cuba could be a good way to raise awareness of both the brigade and the land issue.
It was noted by a brigadista that our online presence can be stronger. I will be planning out a strategy to strengthen this, as our online material is how most potential registrants connect with us. A new brigade guide will also be made for the upcoming year. A proper promo plan will also be written for CNC groups to use to successfully promote the brigade.
I am available for further discussion on this report.
In solidarity,
Alvand Mohtashami
Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade Coordinator 


_________________________________________________

Call to join the Canadian Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade
Canadian Network on Cuba
Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples
Dear Cuba Solidarity friends:
The Che Guevara Brigade is ready for its 23rd year of getting to know Cuba
Join us!
Departure from Toronto: Sunday April 26th, 2015
Return to Toronto: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 
  • Brigadistas do light volunteer work alongside Cubans sharing space and meals, learning and having meaningful exchanges.
  • Brigadistas usually have meetings with various Cuban experts and organizations for a chance to learn about Cuba’s social and political system.
  • There is also beach time, a variety of cultural events, and some free time to explore.
  • On May 1st the Brigade will participate in the May Day parade, which is always a large display of Workers’ Solidarity in Cuba!
  • This year is a special year since it follows the freedom and return home of all Cuban Five. The celebrations are still continuing!
  • A recently announced change in the program has a Solidarity Meeting with the likely participation of the Cuban Five scheduled for May 2nd. The Cuban Five have formally received their title of Heroes of the Republic of Cuba by the hands of President Raul Castro on February 24th.
IMPORTANT:
Because of other international Brigades participating, we have a limited number of places assigned and we must fill them ASAP. Don’t miss your chance!  BOOK YOUR PLACE. PLEASE COMPLETE YOUR REGISTRATION FORM AND MAIL IT BACK TO US TODAY – FIRST COME FIRST SERVED: http://www.canadiannetworkoncuba.ca/brigade/register1.html
Brigade Program:
or download the program at:
Cost and travel information:
Questions?
If you can’t join us,  please pass on this information to your friends, help organize
and promote the Brigade.
THANKS! In solidarity.

________________________


"Brigadistas" Return from Cuba Volunteer Work Program


May 15th 2013, Chevy Phillips, Toronto

A press conference was held today in Toronto’s City Hall to welcome back and hear from the most recent Che Guevara Work Brigade, a group of 43 people aged from 15 to 82 years of age, from 5 provinces across Canada and 1 American state, who spent three weeks engaging in a variety of volunteer work projects across the island of Cuba.

The highly diverse group included 12 students and 9 retirees, 13 people on their first Che Guevara Work Brigade experience, 12 who were present last year and one person for whom 2013 saw their fifth Brigade excursion. Many of the Brigade participants are active in Canada with Cuba Solidarity campaigns, work with their local Cuban Friendship Associations, and take part in the global campaign to free the "Cuban 5" prisoners held in US prisons. Rene Gonzales, one of the 5, has recently been given leave to remain in Cuba and no is longer obliged to fulfil the restrictive bail conditions that were imposed upon him after his release from incarceration due to the popular pressure of the international "Free the Cuban 5" campaign. Members of the Young Communist League of Canada were also proud participants of the Brigade.

The Brigade's press conference was led by Niagara's Dave Thomas, who has been the coordinator for the Work Brigade for the past three years, and heard contributions from four of the Brigadistas. Examples of the activity of the Brigade were discussed, including work on a cooperative farm and visits to schools and hospitals. Work Brigade members of all ages were given tasks according to their abilities; on a Mango farm this meant sorting fruit for distribution or weeding out in the fields, since the overwhelming majority of Cuban agriculture is organic. The Brigade participants related how their efforts were always warmly and gratefully received by local Cuban workers.

A visit to a housing complex for victims of recent hurricane damage was also discussed, the Brigade members relating how impressed they were that even this small community on an island off the mainland was still generously served by education and health services, both of which are world class and free to all citizens. This community has seven teachers for ten students, four daycare workers for around a dozen young children, and a doctor and nurse in residence in the community. One of the Brigade participants, a nursing student from Vancouver, spoke of how trainee nurses in Cuba receive excellent levels of one-on-one training with qualified doctors, and how the average wait time in ER in Cuba is just 30 minutes. In Canada, the average wait times are over four hours, among the highest in the world. Cuba’s health service provided a dramatic and lasting example to the Brigadistas of how even a relatively poor country can have excellent health provision if resources and spending priorities are set accordingly.

One of the highlights of the three weeks was, as anticipated, May Day in Havana. The Brigade participants spoke of their admiration for the enthusiasm and collective spirit of the million or so participants, who from first thing in the morning began to gather with great pride at the achievements of their country, their ranks being led this year by scientific workers currently engaged in ground breaking cancer research. This year’s May Day parade also saw a giant tribute display to the late Hugo Chavez, recently deceased president of Venezuela, who was a great friend of Cuba and much loved by the people there.


May Day 2013 - Havana Cuba
In the words of some of the Brigadistas themselves:

“I have great hope that the Cuban Revolution is strong and surviving, and has answers for the problems we have here in Canada"

“I was greatly impacted by the warmth and humanity of the Cuban people”

“Cuba is a beautiful and powerful example of what a country can achieve when its people work together”


Organising for the next Che Guevara Work Brigade will begin a little later this year. 
For more information: http://www.canadiannetworkoncuba.ca/ 
__________________________________________________


Che Guevara Volunteer Brigade
 February-03-12 9:38 PM
This is a message of sad news. Cuba's singer song writer, Sara Gonzalez, died. Sara visited and sang for the Che Brigade at ICAP's Camp, CIJAM, last year where we presented her with one of our Brigade Tee shirts.  

Sara is best know at the camp for the beautiful song “Giron, La Victoria” played every morning over the camps speaker system to wake up brigadistas for the day's activities. You can hear her sing it accompanied by Battle of Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) photos at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfQ8Q0Z-cDo


Dave Thomas, National Coordinator, Che Guevara Brigade

2011 "Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade" in Cuba




The nineteenth Ernesto "Che" Guevara Volunteer Brigade spent two weeks in Cuba this year, spending one week in the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp near Caimito outside of Havana, and the final week in the Cienfuegos area. In addition, they toured Santa Clara where they visited the Che Guevara mausoleum and other points of interest. Of the 22 brigadistas, six came from Nova Scotia.

The Che brigade is an on going non-profit project of the Canadian Network on Cuba of which NSCUBA is a member. Every year people from across Canada go to Cuba to learn first hand about the Cuban reality and experience a socialist country. They get to contribute in a small way to the efforts of the Cuban people to build a better world both through volunteer work as well as by making material donations, and after learning the truth about Cuba returning to spread the word back home in Canada.

Next year, the 2012 Brigade will be going to Holguin. Participants will be able to visit key sites of the Revolution including trips into the Sierra Maestra. We are hoping for an extra large contingent in celebration of the 20th year of the Brigade and foresee participating in the following activities: 

   * Holguin May Day Parade
   * Visits to institutions and work places
   * Visit to Biran (Fidel & Raul's birthplace)
   * Santiago de Cuba
   * Moncada
   * Jose Marti mausoleum changing of the guard
   * Beach day(s)
   * Volunteer work



 Come! Join the brigade for the experience of a life time!

Please note that the photos here included are the work of Albert Teng -the almost "official photographer" of the 2011 Brigade. Thanks Albert!

National Coordinator site:
http://www.canadiannetworkoncuba.ca/brigade/