Off the coast of Honduras, a great kept secret of the Caribbean is the up and coming Island of Guanaja. The island and its surrounding waters has vibrant reefs, natural waterfalls, and absolute natural beauty between its sea and pine-rich mountains. This 20 square mile island is inhabited by 7000 people who not only speak Spanish, but most speak English as well. The community has four public schools in the towns of Mitch, Savannah Bight, Pelican Reef and the capital, Bonacca. These schools are providing education for over 1500 children, grades kindergarten through ninth. From 7:30 in the morning until lunch time the younger grades (kindergarten through fifth grade) receive class. At 1:30 in the afternoon, in only 2 of the public schools, the older students pursue their studies up to ninth grade. Being forty-three miles from mainland Honduras, the proximity and availability of financial aid and educational resources to Guanaja is not what it should be.
Two years ago, we joined the Pack for a Purpose program at our dive resort, The Villa on Dunbar Rock. One year later our sister resort Cabañas on Clark’s Cay also became part of the initiative. Given our goal to help the youth of our island, we ask the guests to provide school supplies in those extra inches in their luggage. As a result, guest response has been incredibly touching and life changing for many. We have received over five hundred pounds in varied school supplies and over 500 children have benefited from these donations. From backpacks, teaching material, pencils & sharpeners, first aid kits to sea clean-up programs!
Through the Pack for a Purpose initiative and our guests’ good will, we have been able to provide donations to all the public schools in Guanaja for certain grades at a time. If you take a moment to realize that so many of the items donated, were not part of the child’s life before, it’s truly inspiring. Not having a bag to carry your books or coloring pencils, it sets you aback. Last year, a dive shop that brought a group down, not only brought down countless school supplies, they left with a commitment to start a new initiative. They will be raising funds in their community in order to start a program in the schools of Guanaja, to teach the youth about the importance of maintaining sea life and our reefs!
A small corner of this vast planet of ours, is a little bit better due to the initiative Pack for a Purpose has set forth. Remember, every pound of school supplies or donations packed, provides unmeasurable support to the local community. The last 4lb of space in your luggage can serve a greater purpose. We continue to thank you for your continued support.