Roatán, one of the three main islands of the Bay Islands National Marine Park, is surrounded by over 95 square kilometers of coral reefs. Tourism employs many in the community of Sandy Bay. But some families live in cardboard shacks without running water, and some of these impoverished people, looking for food, poach fish at night from the reefs.
The Bay Islands Conservation Association, a local NGO, engages children in conservation-oriented after-school activities. The program teaches the importance of coral reefs and mangroves, and how tourism depends on a healthy marine ecosystem. Another local entity, the School of Life Foundation, runs programs that help children with schoolwork, provide meals, and teach English. Currently, however, all these activities are limited because they take place outside, on a basketball court or near the street. It’s not conducive to learning, and it means that activities must stop at sundown.
Seacology will finance construction of the second floor (two classrooms and a kitchen) of an environmental and children’s center these organizations are building. The center will provide a secure place for children to learn, eat, and relax. (It could also serve as an emergency shelter.) Each morning, staff will prepare and serve a healthy breakfast to 30 to 40 kids—lessening pressure their parents feel to fish illegally.