Entertainment and Goodwill
12 December 2015 | Tortugal Marina, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Beth /mostly sunny, high 20's
RAM Marina and the community school in Cayo Quemado joined forces last weekend for a wonderful celebration and fundraiser.
RAM was celebrating the grand opening of its fine new paint shed and 2nd anniversary of the West Marine store, and the school was raising funds for its Community Tuition Grant program. A whole gang of young people from Cayo Quemado came to town to serve food and help with the silent auction and raffle, and Kelli told us that some of them had never seen so many gringos in one place before! They conducted themselves with grace and smiles as they reached out for our lines when we arrived in our dinghies, served up burgers and hotdogs, and handed out sodas and beer.
The cruisers turned out by the dozen too – and although someone quipped that cruisers always turn up when there is free food, they also bought raffle tickets and bid on the auction items. We ended up with the successful bid on the rigging inspection by Tom the Sailmaker, which is nice, but now (since I was the one who kept increasing our bid) I am fervently hoping he finds everything in good order so that good idea of mine doesn’t end up costing Jim more than he is expecting.
The grant program raised over 14,000Q so along with the regular support of both boaters and local families it will help many students in the village continue their education.
In 2012, 9 grants to middle school (Basico – Grades 7-9) were given, increasing to 21 grants the following year. By 2014, some of those students wanted to go on to High School/ Vocational School (Diversificado) so they added Diversificado grants to the program. This is a significant expansion to the program, because while $75 US will pay for tuition, uniform and school supplies for a child to attend Basico for a year, it takes $450 to provide tuition and uniform to a Diversificado student. They also have to commit to attending school in another town as it is impossible to provide that level of education in this small community. In 2015, 10 basico grants and 10 Diversificado grants were given. This program, founded by Kelli Doll along with local community members, certainly expands the education and employment prospects for the children of f Cayo Quemado.
Thursdays are Trivia nights on the river, and at last week’s game, the team I was on won first place! We divide ourselves in groups of 5, paying 10Q per person, put our heads together and come up with answers to questions posed by the quizmasters of the game the previous week. So – it is nice to win the honour (and the pot) but it does have the disadvantage of requiring some more work! Our group – The Feltliners (named after Dave’s first band) donated our prize to the Casa Guatemala Christmas gift program. Each Marina has a prominently placed box that gradually gets filled with toys to be distributed to the school children at Casa Guatemala – also supported by Backpackers Restaurant, Hostel and Store. My team mates had fun shopping for gifts, and the Tortugal box is filling up. Check out www.casa-guatemala.org for more information.
The Girls Empo ASOEMPO – a program started by my friend, Annie, and now run by local Guatemalans with her support from afar, operates a school farther down the river, and their school buses/boats bring children from 10 different villages to school each day. They steadily raise funds to support the work of educating all students and empowering young girls to imagine and create healthy and successful lives for themselves. Have a look at www.girlsempo.org for more information on that program.
While we cruisers are here exploring Guatemala, Belize and Honduras – staying in marinas or anchoring in the local area, enjoying a tropical climate, passing through from South to North or North to South, it feels very good to contribute to the lives of the local young people.
And through the excellent films shown at local marinas, the recently formed book club, and weekly trivia contests, we don’t feel deprived of entertainment options. The big movie winner so far is Meru – the story of three climbers making the first ascent of the Shark’s Fin in India’s Himalayas – gorgeous scenery and a look into the passion of the climbers. We saw Particle Fever a couple of weeks ago – about the experimental physicists working on the LHN (Large Hadron Collider) and searching for the Higgs Boson Particle. While I could comprehend little of what they were talking about, I loved listening to the passion in the voices and watching the activities of these brilliant people.
And as for books, you can see what we are up to at www.riodulcechisme.com. A dozen of us had lots of fun discussing books and movies – along with eating breakfast and drinking mimosas!