Archive | May, 2017

Save The Bays Donates to 6 Schools for Environmental Programs

Hundreds of students in the northern Bahamas will find environmental programs in their schools next year, thanks to a generous donation from Save The Bays.

Recipient schools, all in Grand Bahama, were surprised when they were selected without knowing they would be competing for the first of its kind donation.

“We wanted to reward each of the schools whose students were interested enough in the environment to enroll and participate in the Youth Environmental Ambassadors program,” said Joe Darville, Chairman of Save The Bays, the fast-growing local environmental movement launched in 2013 that has more than 20,000 Facebook fans today.

“Those students did extremely well in the most recent session which was the most challenging of all the series we have done. Not only did these young Bahamians give up every other Saturday for four months, they had to conduct research, sometimes tedious, reporting details that were forwarded to international authorities for inclusion in broader studies. The 24 students were so diligent. Even if they were sorting and separating types of plastic in beach trash, they understood that what they were doing was helping to paint a broader picture in order to understand sources, develop campaigns to end the litter and find ways to solve the problem that produced the litter and plastic in the first place.” 

Two weeks ago, the 24 graduates were pinned during a lively ceremony that included drumming, part of the program designed to teach teamwork and build self-confidence.

School principals had been invited to attend the pinning ceremony.

“When we began to call them up to tell them they were receiving funds for their school’s environmental programs, their eyes popped, they grinned, no one had any idea,” said Darville, a retired educator who never stops teaching, but these days spends most of his time speaking about the fragile and oft-threatened Bahamian environment.

Some of the recipient schools have basic environmental programs, others will be able to introduce gardening, growing vegetables and herbs at the school grounds, or add to their anti-litter campaigns with additional trash receptacles and liners. 

Recipient schools include Sister Mary Patricia Russell Junior High School, Eight Mile Rock High School, Sunland Baptist Academy, Bishop Michael Eldon School, Jack Hayward Junior High School and Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Academy.

Save The Bays will offer the YEA program again during the school year and in the summer will host week-long Eco-Explorer summer camps for students ages 12-16 in July and for ages 7-11 in August. With only 15 slots available for each week’s camp, space is expected to fill quickly.

Waterkeepers Bahamas Dives into Summer Supporting Swim Programs

Two swim programs in Grand Bahama got a welcome boost this week with donations from Waterkeepers Bahamas, the local licensee of the world’s largest and fastest-growing non-profit solely focused on clean water.

“We were pleased to show our support for the Freeport Aquatics Club, which has been such a powerful force in teaching discipline and sportsmanship while turning in highly competitive performances, and to the YMCA Swim for Ocean Survival (SOS) program that has done a remarkable job teaching school children

Marine environmental monitoring organization Waterkeepers Bahamas lends support to Grand Bahama YMCA Swim for Ocean Survival (SOS) program. Pictured l-r, Grand Bahama Coastal Waterkeeper and Save The Bays Chairman Joe Darville, YMCA Programs Director Shakeitha Henfield and Bahamas Waterkeepers Executive Director Rashema Ingraham.

basic in the water survival skills,” said Rashema Ingraham, Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director.

Both programs, she said, help prepare people to enjoy the waters safely.

“When Bahamians start swimming in open waters at a young age, they develop confidence but just as importantly, they develop an appreciation for the beauty of the underwater world and all the marine life that they would never see up close and personal otherwise,” said Ingraham.

Joe Darville, Save The Bays Chairman and Grand Bahama Coastal Waterkeeper agreed.

“Being in the water with fish, conch, crawfish, with sponges and corals and grasses, gives all of us a deeper respect for and a better understanding of the need to preserve marine life,” said Darville. “That commitment to preserve complements the goals of Waterkeepers Alliance to make as much of the world’s water as possible fishable, swimmable and drinkable.”

According to YMCA Director Karon Pinder-Johnson, more than 10,000 people in Grand Bahama – nearly one-fourth of the island’s population – have participated in the SOS learn to swim program in the eight years of its existence and this year she is hoping that more teachers will participate. The program is free of charge and open to students of all schools in Grand Bahama.

Diving into action — Waterkeepers Bahamas supports Freeport Aquatics Club (FAC) as part of its mission to bring awareness of the need to preserve a fragile marine environment. Pictured l-r, Grand Bahama Coastal Waterkeeper and Save The Bays Chairman Joe Darville, FAC Head Coach Albert ‘Bert’ Bell, Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director Rashema Ingraham and FAC super star and assistant coach Ashton Knowles.

“This is a perfect example of a community pulling together, one non-profit helping another to achieve a common goal – appreciating the beauty of our waters and making it safe for more people to enjoy them,” said Ingraham. 

Founded in 1999 by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Waterkeeper Alliance patrols rivers, bays, lakes and oceans on six continents. Kennedy was in The Bahamas in 2013 to help launch the Conchservation initiative and present The Bahamas with its first Waterkeeper license. Since then, the country has gained two more and volunteers monitor the waters and file reports in three areas of the northern Bahamas.



Save The Bays Pins 24 Bahamian Youth Environmental Ambassadors

Zhyir Miranda, 12, knew even as a youngster that littering was wrong. But it wasn’t until she signed up for Youth Environmental Ambassadors and saw the damage it could do to marine life that she fully understood littering wasn’t just ugly – it was dangerous. 

“Littering does not just look bad, littering can kill the turtles in the sea. It can kill the animals that live in the mangroves and depend on mangroves for their survival especially when they are young,” said the 12-year-old who rattled off characteristics of red, black and white mangroves as if she were reciting words of a favourite rap tune.

On Saturday, Zhyir was pinned for her passion, rewarded for her enthusiasm.

The Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Academy seventh grader became one of 24 young Bahamians certified as Youth Environmental Ambassadors (YEA), a program sponsored and operated by the environmental advocacy organization Save The Bays.

Students and facilitators conduct fact-finding missions as part of their field studies to earn certification in the Save The Bays Youth Environmental Ambassadors program.

For the past four months, junior high students like Zhyir spent every second Saturday trekking through bush, cleaning beaches, learning about wetlands, studying the impact of plastic on oxygen supply of salt or fresh water marine life. All activities, both in the classroom at the YMCA in Freeport and in the field, were geared toward making participants future leaders in environmental stewardship.

“This was the fourth year Save the Bays has offered Youth Environmental Ambassadors to youth in Grand Bahama,” said Rashema Ingraham who oversees the popular program that normally draws twice as many applicants as there is space to accommodate. More than 200 have graduated. The last 4-month session, Ingraham said, differed from former versions of the program.

“In the past, we spent a lot of time visiting sites, learning about how industrial waste is managed, for instance, or power generated or what it takes to produce solar energy. But this time we focused on research which we shared with organisations abroad. The work that participants did was very important. They gathered data about shoreline erosion, indigeneous vegetation and wetlands. Some of the work involved fine detail. There were sections of beach, for instance, that when we did a beach clean-up, we separated the trash and garbage to identify how much plastic or glass or metal or other debris we found. The most discouraging part was that the majority of the debris we collected had not floated ashore from passing ships. Based on bottles and labels of products, most of the litter we found was the result of local activity reflecting environmental neglect and disrespect.”

Littering still hurts Zhyir, but now she is more likely to speak up when she sees someone toss something from a car window, even if the offender is much older or bigger. 

“It is bad for the ocean and it kills things in the sea. It kills turtles. When I joined Save The Bays (YEA), I learned a lot more about our environment and I learned that there are 80 species of mangroves. I learned so much and now I want to stand up for the environment. Did you know that viviparis, they’re like plants that give birth to live plants, grow up in salt water and breathe oxygen from above the water? I found that cool.”

Finishing in the top three of the class, Zhyir said the course that included leadership and teamwork played out through team drumming exercises, helped reaffirm her passion to care for pets as a veterinarian. 

As graduates received their pins and began their roles as youth ambassadors, the schools they came from were also rewarded. Save The Bays provided financial support for all six schools whose students participated in the YEA program including Sister Mary Patricia Russell Junior High School, Eight Mile Rock High School, Sunland Baptist Academy, Bishop Michael Eldon School, Jack Hayward Junior High School and Mary Star of the Sea.

The YEA program is part of Save The Bays education mandate. The organization has also led the demand for a strong Freedom of Information Act, transparency in government, an end to unregulated development and more. Its strong legal arm has experienced courtroom victories leading to greater sensitivity to environmental impact. More than 20,000 have liked STB Facebook page and its petition to the Prime Minister of The Bahamas calling for a comprehensive environmental protection act among other changes has nearly 7,000 signatures.

THE EVOLUTION OF THE DEATH AND REBIRTH OF VOLUNTEERISM: Presentation at the American Women’s Club during the occasion of the bestowal of scholarships and other donations

DSCN4233Long, long time ago, back in the late sixties and early seventies, before any of young people, or even your parents, were just in the mind of the Creator, I observed with much distress, the dying of volunteerism in our beloved Bahama-land. It moved me so significantly, that I, actually, established in 1978, at the high school level, a program called “obligatory community hours, to qualify for graduation.” And today, thankfully, every high school in this nation has that as a prerequisite for earning a diploma.

Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Academy, which is now the amalgamation of Grand Bahama Catholic High and Mary, Star of the Sea Primary, has instituted an annual award in my name, to be bestowed upon the graduate with the highest and most outstanding community service hours. Last year’s award was given to a student who had accumulated two thousand plus hours.  When the program was first established, I designated the minimum of 60 hours; however, many students over the years have far surpassed that in meaningful and compassionate service to their community.

It was. and still is,  rather difficult to pin down with certainty the reasons for the dying of volunteerism back in the sixties and even up to this time in our history. For it is still a serious neglect at many levels of our communities today. I can, however, with some certainty blame much on the rapid rise of materialism, greed and an obvious rise of selfishness, marking that period.  Prior to that time, there was a much greater concern for our fellowman to such an extent that not many among us were really in want. Of course, that period marked a rapid increase in drug trafficking, drug use and addiction, and the massive increase of tourism catapulted many of our citizens into a mode of living, where dog eat dog seemed to be the order of the day.

I give you that brief introduction simply to set the stage for what is taking place this evening.

You have assembled here to partake in the generosity of a group of ladies in an organization which is designated by the name PHILANTHROPHIC ( The American Women’s Club). Its focus is not really what “club” denotes, where they come to eat good food and drink expensive wine or celebrate their own greatness. No, rather, it is a “philanthropic” affair. Let’s take a look at that word. It is actually of Greek and Latin origin.  It literally means love of people. So what? One can say we all basically love people.

However, inherent in that word is a multitude of meanings: Just to give a few: benevolence, generosity, humanitarianism, public-spiritedness, altruism, social conscience, social concern, charity, charitableness, brotherly love, fellow feeling, magnanimity, open-handedness, bountifulness, unselfishness, selflessness, humanity, kindness, kind-heartedness, big-heartedness, compassion, humaneness. In other words, one thirteen letter word that holds basically all the magnificent elements of the human spirit. I wish that you remember at least one third of those characteristics of  LOVER OF HUMANITY.AwardRecipients

Wow, one would say, are these ladies assembled here this evening dare to describe themselves in those magnificent and glowing terms? Well, I Joseph Lyle John Darville, originating from Long Island Bahamas, would at the instant vouch for them and would probably add even a few more adjectives to describe the magnitude of their selfless giving. Over the many year of their existence, and mine here on Grand Bahama, I have witnessed the incredible level of their love and dedication to the needy, the neglected and the less fortunate in our community.  Only very recently, following the massive devastation of Hurricane Matthew, these ladies rallied their forces, opened even wider their benevolent hearts and extended their gracious  hands, to relieve some of the extensive distress of residents in the most damaged areas on the island, namely West End, Eight Mile Rock, Lewis Yard and Pinders Point.

I personally experienced  their outpouring of generosity, for I became the regular delivery boy with my vehicle and took truck-loads of desperately need items to these residents. Many had lost all of their earthly possessions. These ladies, along with the Canadian Women’s Club, another philanthropic organization, brought back a level of dignity to hundreds of residents, re-clothing them, feeding the hungry, and comforting those in great distress.

What an amazing example, my young people after whom you can model your own life and extend it into the hearts and needs of so many of our citizenry who are so much less fortunate than yourselves. I have hope, which I often today place in the realm of the youth of this nation, that we will once again become a people passionately concerned with the wellbeing of others.

You know, I had my lessons very young in my life, growing up as a young boy on Long Island. When my cousin and I went fishing, it was always our joy and delight to share our catch with all our neighbors, especially the old who could no longer fish or had no sons to do so for them. When we went at night at low tide on the reef with wooden torches on the north side of the island, crabbing for lobsters, if we caught three or four, the next day they were shared similarly. Out of season when the crabs, no longer crawled, and were hibernating deep in the rocky holes, we would chance to shove our bare hands down the holes to haul out enough for a meal, again shared with our neighbors.

We all had so little materially, but the gratefulness in our lives caused us to feel rich and prosperous, even while living in a thatched-roof two-room house, in which  parents raised a family of ten children, and myself the grand.  No electricity, no running water, no refrigerator, no washing machine, no paved roads, no phone, no vehicle, no bicycle, and the list of the absence of modern conveniences can go on and on.   But yet we were as happy as I am today, for we always knew that the manna from heaven would somehow be there every day, even if the mail boat did not arrive.

As my grandmother would command, son, we have no “relish”, go out in the sound (the bay) and grub a few fish, or go “overback” in the hills and dig a few crabs to have with these lone grits. This was a regular event when the mail boat did not come, bringing a week’s supply of corned beef, sardines, tuna fish, etc., due to inclement weather. I must give a two stories here about grubbing fish and digging crabs. First digging crabs: one late afternoon when no mail boat came, my grandmother says boy go a dig a few crabs. Well that was hibernating time for the crabs; so I had to find a hole, normally covered with dirt and rocks; after finding four, I became a little greedy, noticing a nice hole which was bound to house a nice big crab; after digging now about a foot, clearing dirt and rocks, I gingerly inserted my had in the hole to withdraw the should be sleeping crab; but no, not that crab; it had awakened apparently from the noise of my digging, and was ready to lay hold of my forefinger.  For at least two hours, I lay there taking may tries to free that finger; in the end when dark began to settle in, I made one last pull and left a good portion of the too of that finger with that darn crab.  I carefully filled back the hole, came back the next day; and instead of my hand, I lowered down a nice juicy stick; and that crab laid hold of that so firmly I easily hauled it out of the hole; it was one of those really-pretty orange, red and black-black crabs. (Remember not all black crabs are just black!)  To my dismay, however, it was a female and its apron was chuck  full of eggs ready to hatch.  I, blessed her, showed her my injured finger and gingerly lowered her back into the hole to finish her hibernation and supply the land with another crop of delicious little crabs. Today, I still carry the scar from her on my finger!

And now the art of grubbing fish.  We go out into the sound /bay in little dingy, looking for holes in the mud or rocks; dive into the water, no goggles or any other form of swimming gear, carefully insert our hand and arm into the hole, praying there would be no big-eye John, moray eel or stone crab waiting to latch on to our finders; feeling carefully for the head, we haul out a tasty grunt, grey snapper, lane snapper, and sometime even a mutton fish or turbot.  Those were the days of real hunting, no weapons just bare fingers, hands and arms!

Again my journey into the world of caring for others began at an age much younger than you are. Coming from schools each afternoon, it was my simple, but oh so fulfilling task to rethread the needles of half bling old people, who waited just for me to “oblige.” I got the impression some of them intentionally unthreaded their sewing needles just to give me the honor to rethread. Those are just a few of the simple but profound acts and experiences in my youth which trained my heart to become philanthropic similar to these  lovely ladies.

This sense of otherness, kindness to all human beings, comes from the realization that there is always sufficient abundance for all mankind. These ladies have aligned themselves with that universal abundance and thus their desire to always share. Even these lands of ours and the energy of Mother Earth should give us that natural impulse to share. The first people, the original inhabitants of these islands had that closeness and reverence for the islands of their home.

They, the indigenous, first peoples of these islands, what we label as Indians, and sometimes, even as savages were gentle, kind and gracious. The savages actually came from abroad and literally wiped out a whole nation of wonderful and beautiful people. Those same vibrational energies still abide in the rocks, the dirt, the waters and the trees which now become the source of our wellbeing. Our spirit should be similar, knowing that we really don’t own anything; we just share it for awhile and then give it all back to Mother Earth.

Open your hearts to those life-giving treasures all around you; as you recognize them, celebrate and give thanks for them, your will always remain young at heart, live long, live healthy and celebrate eternal abundance in your life; then as you open your hearts and hands to others, know that you are imitating the graciousness of our Beloved Mother Earth. She is ever renewing and regenerating her beauty and limitless abundance.

Look at similar simple acts which teach you the path to philanthropy.  Even if your voluntary work may  sometimes go unnoticed in your country, or even in your community, it still counts immensely, for it sets the stage for the growth and development of your personality and its mindfulness of essentials in life. There may be even times when you are ridiculed for your service to mankind, particularly if you are willing to sacrifice all for the benefit of your country and others.

So examine your life today, tomorrow, in light of the attributes of a philanthropic persons, as described above,  and determine now which of these qualities you possess and which will you allow to naturally flow into your hearts and spirit. Right now, for example, how grateful will you be to these ladies who have sacrificed on your behalf? How committed are you to apply the effort to really be deserving of their gifts to you this evening?

Will you, from this evening onward, become ever mindful of your similar role, ten, twenty or thirty years from now to recognize the simplest need of another and respond graciously to it? They believe in you, believe in yourself and prove to yourself the value of that trust they place in you. Therein lies the rebirth of volunteerism, or philanthropy for our beloved Bahama-land.  If you want to reap tremendous joy and satisfaction in your life, and reestablish a wonderful real of o philanthropy, tattoo that twelve-letter word into your hearts and minds, and even on your body, if you’re so inclined. I always use the symbol of Mother Earth as my inspiration: she, in her bountifulness continues to give and give limitlessly; from her bosom, from her belly, she graces us unconditionally with her abundance, and that never diminishes.

How grateful are we that she so concerns herself with our needs; how often do we offer her our love and attention; 99.999999 percent of what we are physically comes from her, from her womb, and how do we express our gratefulness to her. Oh how we abuse and misuse her, dumping all our garbage unceremoniously on her belly and upon her bosom. She cries and moans daily from our disrespect for her.

And finally, I wish that you record in your hearts, minds and memories these  profound and prophetic words of our dear Martin Luther King Jr.: KEEP MOVING:

“This is the most important and crucial period of your lives, for what you do now, and what you decide at this age will well determine which way your life shall go. And the question is whether you have a proper, a solid and sound blueprint.  And I want to suggest some of the things that should be in your life’s blueprint. Number one, in your life’s blueprint should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your own worth, and your own some-bodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you are nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance. Secondly, in your life’s blueprint, you must have as a basic principle to the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor. You are going to be deciding as the days and years unfold what you will do in life, what your life’s work will be. Once you discover what it will be, set out to do it and to do it well. Be a bush, if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail.  If you can’t be the sun, be a star, for it isn’t by size that you win or you fail;  be the best at whatever you are. Finally, in your life’s blueprint, must be a commitment to the eternal principles of beauty, love, and justice. Well, life for none of us has been a crystal stair, but we must keep moving, we must keep going. If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl, but by all means keep moving.”

And this is further underscored by the great philosopher, Albert Einstein who wrote: “Life is like riding a bicycle; To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

Warm congratulations to all the recipients, including the awarded charitable organizations, and an abundance of bountiful gratitude to the esteemed American Women’s Club, a noble and renowned living organism in our land.


Save The Bays Congratulates Incoming Government, Urges Making Freedom of Information Act a Priority, Promises to Hold Their Feet to ‘da Fire

Hours after the Free National Movement swept the national elections in an historic vote, winning all but four seats in a 39-seat House of Assembly, one of the country’s most popular organisations offered congratulations and urged attention to what it called “promises Bahamians want fulfilled as top priorities.”

Chief among those, said Save The Bays, was delivering on a long-awaited Freedom of Information Act that would enable the people to know the people’s business. “Save The Bays congratulates Dr. Hubert Minnis and the members of the Free National Movement who now undertake the courageous and grave responsibility of defining the future of this great little country over the next five years,” said a statement by the environmental advocacy group. “For far too long, the people of The Bahamas have been kept in the dark about issues or decisions that affect them until it is too late. It is time to lift the veil of secrecy and for the people to be guaranteed the right to know the people’s business. It is time for light and transparency and only through a strong and genuine Freedom of Information Act can those rights be guaranteed.”

The statement said the group also wanted to see continued interaction with civil society andcommitment to public consultation, serious attention to electoral process reform including campaign finance, passage of a comprehensive environmental protection act, an end to unregulated development and equitable handling of Crown land applications with priority given to Bahamians. “While our priority is environment and sustainable development that does not trample of the rights of long-standing Bahamian communities, we want this government to know just as the former government knew that we are, in many ways, the watchdog for the many whose voices are silenced by fear of victimization. We will continue to hold everyone’s feet to the fire and truly hope that you will be successful in all you do in energizing the economy, managing debt and restoring faith in The Bahamas locally and abroad.”

KB Launches 13 Song Collectors’ Album for STB 3rd Anniversary

Save the Bays album coverBest-selling rake ‘n scrape artist Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie today made entertainment history, releasing an album that marries his conscience collage with a call for action, 13 songs packed with purpose and driven by heartache and hope. Each of the singles was commissioned by Save The Bays over a period of three years and were released as a collector’s album in celebration of the environmental advocacy organisation’s third anniversary celebration.

“Musicians have been writing and singing about love and their achy-breaky hearts since the beginning of time,” said the legendary KB. “And that’s just what I’m doing with these songs, but the heartache I am writing about is what I see happening to The Bahamas. When I see the conch dying off and I call for Conchservation singing we’re a conchy nation, I’m taking a serious subject and making it fun to make sure people listen. Sing it, dance to it, stomp your feet and your fists if you want, but you’re going to get the message without someone lecturing to you and that’s what matters. People listen and they care and if they care, they do something. The stories in my songs are meant to plant a seed for change to protect our environment, our people, our resources.”

News of the record’s release came during a press conference in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

“KB’s music has been an important vessel for carrying the message that we have an obligation to be stewards of this environment and preserve it for our children and their children’s children,” said Save The Bays Chairman Joe Darville. “His music starting with ‘Rise up, Bahamas, Let’s Save the Bays’ to ‘Hold da feet to da fire to Das Nasty and all the others have dominated the music scene over the past few years and made everyone feel a part of this movement demanding transparency, freedom of information and a government that is accountable. At the same time, they’ve struck a chord with our overall environmental stewardship message with songs like Oil Fish and Save our Nassau Grouper.”

With a colourful cover depicting a coral reef teeming with fish in the foreground and heavy equipment threatening to destroy it in the background, the album features a new single released for the first time, Dream for Our Bahamaland. Its chorus, says Darville, is as touching as any country song written by someone who has lost the love of his life but dreams it will return. “I see a place where our children can run free, where our air is clean and our lands are drug free, where there’s no threat of war and love still stands, that’s my dream for our Bahamaland.”

The album will be available at Unexso and Pearlmart in Freeport and at Stuart Cove Dive in Nassau for $10 and can be downloaded from iTunes. Proceeds will go toward the education arm of Save The Bays for its Youth Environment Ambassadors program and other community awareness efforts.

  Save The Bays has championed citizens’ rights to information and participation in a consultation process in matters that impact them and their communities. Its first Freedom of Information rally in 2014 drew representatives from across the political, social and civil society spectrum and its Facebook page has more than 20,000 friends.