Thank You For Helping To Make A Difference

As the year draws to an end, we wanted to thank you again for your wonderful support, and let you know that you are helping to make a real difference in our tiny island community.

When you came to Utopia Village, you had probably never met us before. For most, it was your first time on Utila and you had likely never heard of the tiny fishing village of Pigeon Cay. You came for a well-deserved vacation and to dive and relax. But even though our grass-roots community efforts are still at an early stage and very informal, and we never asked for donations, you still chose to help. You left envelopes with donations at checkout. You added something extra when paying your bill. You sent things from the US. You brought stuff in your luggage. You wrote hand-written notes of encouragement. You sent us follow-up emails with suggestions. You chose to get involved when you didn't have to.

And that means a lot to us. Your caring, kindness and generosity have touched us deeply. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You are helping to make people's lives better, and making a real difference in our tiny corner of the world. THANK YOU!

We concentrated most of our efforts on the Pigeon Cay children and their community. Here are just some of the things that you helped make possible with your donations and support.

The first big area of focus was EDUCATION.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Volunteer English Teacher

We were able to support a Volunteer English Teacher (one of our previous guests) to help at the school for 6 months by providing accommodation, utilities and transportation for her. This had a huge and positive impact (too many things to cover in this short update) and we already have a second volunteer (the daughter of one of our guests) lined up to continue this effort in 2017.

Infrastructure Upgrades

We provided some important infrastructure upgrades to help the school: Air-conditioning units to help cool the classes, where temperatures can reach 95+ F in summer. Basic internet service (12-month contract) for the first time ever in the school's history. Twelve new chairs to replace very old, damaged and dangerous chairs in one of the class rooms.

English Library

We have established a small English library with about 30 children's books. It has been a big hit. Parents tell us their children keep them up at night wanting to read the books. We are also starting a rewards program for reading a book and writing a basic book report about it. More books are planned for 2017.

School Supplies

We delivered a wide range of school supplies including notebooks, pencils, pens, crayons, puzzles, posters, backpacks and more, as well as basic sports equipment like balls and bats. These are things that we often take for granted, but most of the children here cannot afford them and the school is unable to provide them.

Shoes

We were able to buy shoes for children that desperately needed replacements.

Academic Rewards

We held two Movie Nights (with snacks and drinks) as a reward for students who had 100% school attendance records. We also provided prizes for the winners of our first Math Olympics and English Bee competitions. These activities are all geared towards encouraging students to come to school, and work hard and do their best.

The second big focus area was THE ENVIRONMENT.

"Try to leave the Earth a better place than when you arrived." - Sidney Sheldon

Environmental Hero Program

We launched an "Environmental Hero" program with the school. We are very proud of the results in the first 6+ months. The program has 4 main elements: (1) educating children about the impact of littering to their environment and their lives; (2) a plastic bottle collection and recycling initiative that in 6+ months has collected over 100,000 plastic bottles that were sent to the mainland to be recycled (1,000 bottles earns you a T-shirt); (3) a "reduce one-time use plastics" incentive program supported by all the Pigeon Cay stores; and (4) a twice yearly cleanup of the Cays. We administer the program with the help of the school principal, and provide all the rewards, as well the logistical support (bags, gloves, transport of the collected bottles etc.). This effort is helping to keep the community cleaner, but also hopefully changing the way the younger generation thinks about the environment.

We also sponsored COMMUNITY-BUILDING EVENTS.

Community Events

We sponsored and supported two important community events. The Pigeon Cay Family Fest and the Honduran National Day of the Child activities. Both did a great job of creating greater community spirit and involvement, as well as fostering a stronger relationship between the community, parents and the school. They were also a lot of fun. The Family Fest was used to raise money for the school too.

In each and every one of these initiatives, your amazing support has made a real difference. We (the owners, our staff, the school and the community) are all truly grateful. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” - Nelson Mandela

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