Oceana sponsors Belize City Council Summer Program trip to Goff’s Caye
On Saturday 11 August 2012, 40 children, ages 9 through 15, along with 5 adults enjoyed a full day of sand, sea, sun and learning under Oceana’s first-timer reef visit program.
The day’s trip to Goff’s Caye, which included a snorkel on the reef was in support of the Belize City Council’s Summer Program ‘Shaping young minds for a better Belize tomorrow’. According to Dr. Allan Gonzalez, Councilor for Public Health and Afterschool Programs, the summer program “is to support the aspirational development of marginalized children through greater understanding and appreciation of Belize’s wider environment.”
The Goff’s Caye experience was unforgettable. Thirty of the children had never been to Goff’s Caye and an equal majority had never snorkeled before. After dipping his goggles below water for the first time, one child shouted out in excitement and amazement, “Sir! Sir! Fishes! Fishes! There are fishes DOWN HERE!” Others were awed by the sight of Brain Corals. “Words can’t describe the heartfelt emotions you get when you see children so alive with amazement,” shared Mr. Dough Sigh, Community Outreach Officer for the Belize City Council.
Prior to Saturday’s Goff’s Caye trip the children had visited the Old Belize Museum and Beach, Bacab Eco-Park, The Belize Zoo and the Prison. Mr. Singh noted that the program is geared towards nurturing the children to become positive, productive Belizeans by removing them from the usual high risk environments in which they reside and showing them the true beauty, bounty and possibilities which Belize has to offer them.
On the return trip the children shared their disbelief and gratitude to Oceana for sponsoring such an event for them; many stating that it is the, ‘Best experience they have ever had.’
One most unfortunate and saddening aspect of this event was the senseless shooting incident of 11 year old Carlene Pinto and her brother 18 year old Tyrone Pinto. Young Carlene was one of the children participating in the Summer Camp Program and who was excited about attending the snorkeling trip later Saturday morning. The horrific shooting denied Carlene the opportunity to her first visit to Belize’s magnificent barrier reef.
Oceana in Belize’s Vice President, Audrey Matura Shepherd and its entire staff extends their sincerest prayers for her full recovery and well wishes for Carlene, Tyrone and the Pinto family. “When she is well and fully recovered, Oceana promises to still afford her an opportunity to visit her country’s reef, her reef” said Matura-Shepherd.