My time spent in Belize this summer was nothing short of amazing. Having the opportunity to work with TIDE made my time that much more meaningful. I’m currently a senior marketing major with a LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) concentration at Drake University in the United States. Having the privilege to complete a class and course requirement outside of Drake’s campus was something I’ll forever cherish. Our main project requirement consisted of working towards some type of social change. For us, a fellow classmate and myself, that meant working with the remote village of Punta Negra.
Punta Negra is a small coastal village about an hour by boat from the coast of Punta Gorda. What once used to be a more inhabited area has slowly diminished. The need for jobs and sustainability for families caused this village to shrink to just a few families and a small school.
There has recently been an effort in the southern Toledo District to ensure that this village stays alive. Through the German MAR Fund as well as help from TIDE there has been an increase in awareness for the need this village has. Some of these such efforts were the creation of the Negra Grill & Tavern restaurant and the Rockin’ Wave Guest House.
This is where our part came in. My classmate and I designed and created brochures and handouts to promote Punta Negra. We wanted to increase the local sustainability through things and resources that had already been established prior. Our goal was to leverage what they already had and make it known. With the input and final say from Paula and Sue, who were two women of the village, we worked to make marketing materials to bring more traffic through to Punta Negra. We focused our time and effort on what was already there to make eco-tourism packages. Through authentic cooking lessons (along with authentic food), hand line-fishing and learning how to make Johnny Cakes and coconut oil, we were able to leverage the skills and resources of these women to help make them a sustainable source of revenue.
After we created these materials we went to Lobsterfest in Placencia (a tourist destination north of Punta Negra) to promote the village, talk to tourism groups, as well as handout the materials we had created. After talking with multiple tourism companies, we had a strong interest in this being a possibility for the future. Not all is said and done in this endeavor, but we made some progress that will hopefully help them in the future. We knew going into that we would not get everything done, but what we wanted to accomplish was done- We wanted to build a foundation for future volunteers to work with and hopefully make an impact for these women and this village.