Check out this wrap up and look ahead posted on BOCASDELTORO.COM by Executive Director Emily Talentino!
Just when we think things can’t more exciting, new doors open and more opportunities present themselves! 2016 was a fantastic year for Give & Surf and it looks like even more is in store for 2017! Since its inception in 2011, Give & Surf has been committed to empowering the local indigenous communities of Bocas del Toro through education and community development. While the original preschool & kindergarten in Bahia Roja and Bahia Honda that were the nonprofit’s flagship programs still continue today, Give & Surf has grown exponentially and now serves over eight communities with youth & teen programs, adult English classes, higher education scholarships, community development projects, and more!
A quick wrap up of 2016… Thanks to support of over 200 volunteers and interns this year, we have been able to offer more English classes, after-school programs & extracurricular activities, expand our Bahia Roja preschool to five days per week, and complete several community development capital projects. Give & Surf, in partnership with Surf for Life, built a much needed two classroom addition to the Bocas del Drago school as well as refinished their playground & kitchen and installed solar panels. Thanks to other generous donations, Give & Surf was also able to build a new teacher’s house on Solarte, a playground & water system in Bahia Roja, and complete many smaller projects. With the dissolution of the BESO foundation, Give & Surf committed to expanding its scholarship funds and raised more money in order to provide higher education scholarships to over 40 students from Old Bank, Bahia Roja, Bahia Honda, Bocas del Toro, Bocas del Drago, and Solarte.
Looking ahead to 2017, we are partnering again with Surf for Life to build an additional to the Cristobal primary school and have also received funds to construct a solar powered community center & computer lab in San Cristobal. The Sunshine Heroes Foundation, which donated the money to build the community center in Old Bank in 2015, has committed to providing the funds needed to offer after-school programming, extracurricular classes & summer camp in Old Bank for all of 2017! We hope to expand our scholarship program again next year thus giving even more students the opportunity to finish high school and continue on to university and will be hosting our 4th annual silent auction at Bambu on Saturday, February 11th (more details to come). And that’s just the first quarter of 2017 so stay tuned for more exciting announcements throughout the year!
While Give & Surf continues to grow in leaps and bounds, it is our sense of family that unites us and makes our work so special. While we can easily recite the number of children we serve each week or volunteers that visit each month, we prefer to share the individual stories of each person that is part of our small community. We value the smiles that we see every day, the dreams that are made possible, and the small differences that are collectively achieved. Marisbeth, a shy, nervous three-year-old who didn’t want to leave her mother’s side on her first day of preschool, transformed into a bold, eager learner reciting her ABCs and singing the loudest in the classroom. Marialena from Bahia Roja attended university on a scholarship, and upon graduating with a degree in education, joined the Give & Surf team as a full-time lead teacher this year. Each person’s story and future is what motivates us to work harder and reach farther so that all the local children have access to a quality education.
All of these projects and programs are possible thanks to the generosity of volunteers and donors here in Bocas and others from around the world that come to help us each year. As we near the end of the 2016, we are wrapping up our Giving December campaign which will help provide funding for programs and projects in 2017. To make a donation or to volunteer and to sign up for our newsletter, please visit our website at www.giveandsurf.org. To stay up to date on our events & programs, please follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And mark your calendar… our 4th Annual Back-to-School Auction is at Bambu on Saturday, February 11th and all ages Surf Contest will be at Paki Point earlier that day!