Despite the rain (and rain…and more rain), the annual Carriacou Children’s Education Fund (CCEF) activities were another resounding success. With donations still coming, the amount raised this year has already exceeded $17,000! Through the generosity of all who took part by contributing items and/or cash or by attending and participating in the activities, the CCEF will be able to continue the projects that have benefited hundreds of children on the island for the past eight years.
The fund is an informal, voluntary group comprised of individuals from visiting yachts, their friends and families back home, as well as a number of concerned local businessmen and women in Carriacou. CCEF had its beginnings in 1997 when a group of cruisers in Tyrrel Bay for Regatta gathered together for a potluck BBQ prior to the start of the Carriacou Regatta Festival to greet old friends and become acquainted with others. At that time, there were no more than fifteen visiting yachts at anchor. Through word of mouth, the total experience of Carriacou Regatta has spread though the cruising community and the number of yachts continued to increase. There have been as many as 90 visiting yachts anchored in Tyrrel Bay.
In 2000, a group of cruisers discussed a way to demonstrate appreciation and thanks to the people of Carriacou for their friendliness and hospitality. That year this group, the forerunner of CCEF, held its first benefit auction. At the time, a number of worthy causes were discussed as the potential recipient of the proceeds of the fundraising, and the group chose the children of Carriacou and their education.
Since that time over $86,000 has been raised to assist children in their mainstream schooling, from pre-primary, through primary, secondary and post secondary levels. With this money, needy children are provided with school uniforms and supplies, hot school lunches (“Meals from Keels”), and full tuition and a book stipend at the Carriacou campus of T. A. Marryshow Community College. This year CCEF will be sponsoring six students at TAMCC who otherwise might not have been able to attend.
In addition, through a matching funds program, CCEF has assisted two primary schools in Carriacou to upgrade the wiring and purchase air conditioners for their computer labs, and has committed funds to do the similar upgrades at the other three primary schools as their needs are identified.
It is the hard work of many volunteers throughout the year that culminates and boils down to two or three days of activities in August. The one week out of the year during which the cruisers conduct these activities is just the most visible. Throughout the other fifty-one weeks of the year many are already working toward another success. Cruisers are spreading the word about Regatta, others are making items for the craft table or collecting items for the auction, and many people who are not able to attend Regatta are dropping off contributions at the Yacht Club as they pass through Carriacou. Others who cannot attend but want to participate have emailed pledges of money.
A number of local businesses are also very involved with CCEF. Donations of goods and services are made for the auction and some of these same businessmen are among the highest bidders when gavel comes down to start the auction.
In addition to the auction, other fund raising activities this year included a silent auction, the Welcome BBQ, a dominoes tournament, book swap, a craft table of jewelry and other handmade goods contributed by the many artisans aboard the visiting yachts, and a “$10 and Under” table of those treasures of the bilge that we all have on board.
Sincere thanks go out to everyone who participated this year and in the past. That is the spirit of which all of us can be proud. We look forward to many more years of being able to help the children and to next year when we expect the total amount raised for the children over the years to pass $100,000.
It’s for the kids!!!
Report and photos submitted by the Carriacou Children’s Education Fund