Features — 30 July 2013 — by Albert J. Ciego
Rowan Garel, 13, conducted successful dive into the Blue Hole

Goal of $100,000 for BCVI not yet met

After conquering Victoria Peak and walking across the country from the Benque Viejo border to Belize City, Rowan Garel, 13, the teenage hero who is visually impaired, has performed another feat. This time, he dived in the world-famous Blue Hole, located in the Lighthouse Reef Atoll.

Garel conducted the dive on Friday, July 26, accompanied by his supporting staff. He went down to depths of more than 40 feet, but not to the bottom of the Blue Hole, which plunges hundreds of feet below.

Garel and his team were trained by Sea Sport Belize to prepare them for the dive. Dive instructor John W. Searle said that information was first given to them in a classroom setting. They were then taken to practice in a pool before they were taken to the open sea, and along the way Garel was confident.

Searle told Amandala that Garel’s dive would be successful, since he did well throughout the training, up to his certification.

Carla Ayers Musa, BCVI’s communications officer, who also went down on the dive with Garel, told Amandala that they would not have been allowed to dive if they were not trained and equipped properly. However, the regulations, based on Garel’s age, only permitted him to go down to 40 to 60 feet, although recreational divers go down to as deep as 130 feet.

Ayers Musa said that the aim of the dive was to raise funds for the BCVI Comprehensive Eye Care programs, which include the Primary Eye Care Program for eye testing and diagnosing, and for the issuing of eye glasses; and the Secondary Program which facilitates eye surgery.

Patients who are irreversibly blind are administered a rehab program, which is 100% not-for-profit. The activities are conducted all year round, providing support for the visually impaired. These activities require funding, since BCVI has lost funding throughout the years as a result of donors moving out of the Central American region.

Although there is support from UNICEF, there is a large portion of the program that must still be funded, and the event was aimed at raising those funds. $100,000 is needed for this year, of which $45,000 has been realized. Donations can be made to the BCVI, online to BCVI.org or at the Belize Bank, account 71096. Those wishing to donate can contact BCVI at phone numbers 223- 2636- or 604- 5438.

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