10 Things I like from Cuba
I have not seen destitution in this country. I might have seen one or two makeshift dwellings. If there is homelessness it is negligible. Their homes are extremely humble, many are in really bad shape, but there are no people sleeping in the streets or shantytowns. People are materially poor, but people seem to have the most basic essentials for a dignified life.
Two economies of Cuba
There are two economies in Cuba, just as there are two currencies.
One economy is the Cuban economy based on Cuban salaries. Pubic servants work for the equivalent of approximately 20 US dollars a month. A doctor earns the equivalent of 40 US dollars. Here it is important to put these wages into context. The state provides housing, education, health care and medicine, a guarantee of food rations (albeit these rations have been cut back to the point that they do not provide enough to eat, making the need to buy food necessary). Based on what I can see from the cost of things, the wages does not leave Cuban with any disposable income for things like home maintenance or luxuries like eating out or traveling. All Cubans I have spoken to complain that they need to find and income on the side to make ends meet.
Volunteering in Cuba
Based on my experience in Cuba so far, it seems that the best way to do volunteer work in Cuba is to join a volunteer brigade. The way to do this is to connect with the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples - Instituto Cubano para la Amnistad con los Pueblos (ICAP). The Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba recruit the volunteers from there. The Canadian brigade happens in May.