Q. What is the procedure for obtaining a suitcase of donations?
A. The procedure is simple. Just complete the Online Traveler Form and we will work out logistics.
Q. Is the transportation of donations of medical supplies legal in Canada?
A. Yes. Canada encourages humanitarian aid and many countries allow each visitor to import up to ten kilos of humanitarian aid. (Our donations qualify as humanitarian aid.)
Q. Does the suitcase of donations count as part of my baggage allowance?
A. Yes. But some air carriers will allow you to carry extra weight if it’s humanitarian aid. You should check with your air carrier if necessary as their policies change from time to time.
Q. Can I see what is contained in the suitcase of donations?
A. Yes. In fact, we ask that you empty and repack the contents of the suitcase so that you can truthfully tell airport officials that you’ve packed all of your luggage.
Q. Are there any narcotics or controlled drugs among the donations?
A. No. We do not accept or send any narcotics or controlled drugs.
Q. Will I be required to declare the suitcase at Customs in Canada?
A. No. But your suitcase will contain a letter explaining the contents of the suitcase and its humanitarian purpose. Often luggage is waved through, but Customs officers have the right to inspect your luggage should they choose to do so.
For suitcases to Cuba, the package will contain a letter in both English and Spanish signed by Not Just Tourists Toronto explaining the donations and citing the Cuban law on the matter that you can show to Cuban Customs officials if necessary.
Q. Once in the donor country, what do I do with the suitcase?
A. We send donations to health clinics and hospitals. We will try to send you to a location close to where you will be staying and provide you with all the information needed to deliver the donations, but you are responsible for getting the donations to the designated recipient. The intention is the get the suitcases to those in most need so please DO NOT leave them with your resort doctor or give them to another party for delivery other then the facility in need.
Q. Is it easy to make the delivery?
A. Usually, but it is possible that it could take a few hours to travel to your destination and find the person in charge to accept the donations. We do have an extensive list of delivery destinations and will try to make it as easy for you as possible.
Q. What do I do with the doctor’s letter that NJT has given me?
A. Please have the medical professional to whom you have delivered your suitcase sign that letter, you can then scan or take a photo of it and email it to us.
Q. What happens to the empty suitcase after we’ve delivered the donations?
A. You may leave the suitcases with the clinic or hospital.
Q. Can I give some or all of the supplies to friends in the donor country?
A. No. To comply with medical professional ethics, the suitcase must be delivered with nothing removed to the clinic or hospital identified in the letter. By participating in our program you must agree to do this.
Q. I have been collecting clothing, toys, toiletries and educational materials to give to people in the donor. Can I include these in the suitcase of donations?
A. No. If you receive a full NJTT suitcase, its contents must be delivered as is. With regard to Cuba, Cuban law is clear on the importation of humanitarian aid. Medical supplies qualify. We suggest you read the Cuban Customs regulations at www.aduana.islagrande.cu if you wish to take gifts with you on your trip.
Q. Where do we pick up the suitcase, or can it be delivered to our house?
A. We’re all volunteers and don’t have the capacity to make deliveries or to ship a suitcase to you. Besides, we’d like to meet you before you go to make sure that you have all the information you need. You can pick up your suitcase of donations from a location near you. If you are traveling to the donor country through Toronto and have a little time, it is possible to pick up a suitcase from a location not far from the airport.
Q. What should I do if my suitcase is confiscated?
A. In the highly unlikely event that your suitcase is confiscated, Do Not Argue. Please collect all the relevant data, such as a copy of the form that Customs will be required to complete, the Customs officers name, the date and time of the incident and inform us of what happened as soon as you return to Canada. Though the supplies may not reach the intended destination, it is our hope that they will still reach those in need.
Q. May I take NJTT medical aid to a country other than Cuba?
A. Yes. While we focus on Cuba, travelers to other developing countries which are in need may request that we give them aid to take with them. Travelers will be responsible for providing us with the name of an appropriate medical facility and the name and contact information for the receiving doctor . In addition, travelers must ensure that the customs regulations of the destination country permit the importation of medical aid.
Q. Is it true that Not Just Tourists exists in several cities in Canada?
A. Dr. Ken and Denise Taylor started Not Just Tourists in St. Catharines, Ontario, in the mid 1990’s. Ken and Denise were very generous with their support and allowed us to use the name as well. Since then similar projects have started in Ottawa, Edmonton, Kingston, Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal, and others are in the works. While the projects co-operate as much as we can with each other, we have maintained our independence and each group has established its own policies and procedures.
Q. Can I carry the NJTT donations as hand baggage?
A. No, because our donations can include such things as syringes or surgical instruments which may not be carried in hand baggage.
Q. Why doesn’t NJTT just ship the medical supplies in large containers?
A. There are several reasons why we don’t ship or mail donations. First, the packing and shipping costs and the labour required to pack and ship it would be more than our very limited budget could handle.
Second, donations would have to go through a great deal of bureaucracy in many countries before they got to the people who need them. We cut through the bureaucracy and get donations directly to clinics in a very short time while staying within local law.
Finally, person-to-person contact between Canadians and receiving countries that takes place when travelers take the donations is what makes our project special. This helps to build bridges and friendship between the peoples of two countries.