Punta Gorda, Roatan, Honduras info@flamingoculturalcenter.com +504 3281 9914

Garinagu Celebrate 220 Years of Survival on April 12, 2017

April 12 is the annual Garifuna Settlement Day Festival in Punta Gorda, Roatan. Every year, Garifuna communities all over Honduras celebrate the arrival of Garifuna people to Honduras.

Photo Credit: DG Creations

A little background story….

The Garinagu (plural for Garifuna) are descendants of Arawak Indian and African descent peoples from the island of St. Vincent. In the 1600’s, a slave ship carrying slaves from West Africa shipwrecked off the coast of St. Vincent.  The surviving slaves settled on the island of St. Vincent and began to mix with the Arawak Indians. This mix of people is what gave birth to the Garifuna nation, also known as the Black Caribs.

During the 1700’s, the British were colonizing all throughout the Caribbean and they wanted to do the same to the Garifuna people. Since Garinagu were never slaves, they opposed and went to war with the British. They eventually lost the war and were exiled from St. Vincent. On April 12, 1797 the Garifuna landed on the island of Roatan and founded the first Garifuna community in Central America, Punta Gorda, Roatan.

Flamingo Cultural Center Program – Garifuna Settlement Day

This year we are very excited to be celebrating 220 years of survival. At Flamingo Cultural Center we have a day planned that will satisfy those who are culturally curious. Below is what you can expect to  find at the center on April 12, 2017.

Breakfast – we are aware that visitors come to our beautiful community early that day to catch the mini parade. We’ll have some quick breakfast items for sale like the Honduran favorite, baleada ( flour tortilla with refried beans and cheese) coconut bread with butter, and coffee.

Lunch/Dinner – What is a festival without some delicious local food! Our menu will include island favorites like coconut rice ‘n’ beans, Garifuna dishes like machuca soup of course and Honduran natural drinks such as Horchata (a delicious and refreshing rice milk drink).

Photo Credit: Belizelogue.com
Horchata – common beverage in Central America made out of rice milk.

Honorary Guest – Gilbert Whitfield

Gilbert Whitfield is a man from San Diego, California who didn’t find out he was Garifuna until the later years of his life. During a trip to St. Vincent, Gilbert visited the Garifuna museum and began taking pictures of some of the exhibits. Unbeknownst to him, it was illegal to take pictures, and a couple of minutes after snapping some, he was arrested by local authorities for violation of the picture taking law. Little did he know, Mr. Whitfield was being led to the story that connected him to his grandmother, Ebby, a Garifuna woman from the island of St. Vincent who survived the war in the 1700’s. Gilbert’s story will send chills down your spine as you listen to him. He will be sharing his story with our guests and we would be delighted to have you listen. Read more about Gilbert’s fascinating story here.

Historian – Alfred Arzu

Mr. Arzu is not only part of our staff; he is like family to us as well.  Alfred is full of stories, legends, and Garifuna quotes. A conversation with him will make you feel like time travelling just to learn more about what really happened in history.

Dashiki Themed Party

What’s a celebration without some good music. Join us as we close this very special day with a dance that will have you on your feet ’till morning.  The party starts at 7:00pm and you can purchase your African inspired outfits right here at the cultural center.  We will post some pics of the items we have for sale soon.

What to expect in Punta Gorda on that day

Photo Credit: DG Creations
Photo Credit: DG Creations

On this day you can expect lots of music, drumming, food and lots of vibrant colors as the Garinagu of Punta Gorda, Roatan grace the streets in traditional clothing. Some of the goodies to look out for are Guifity, a famous drink with medicinal and aphrodisiac properties, machuca, a seafood soup made in a coconut broth and lovely hand crafted souvenirs. The entire community celebrates so you can simply walk from end to end that day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books Galore!

Yesterday we received a very thoughtful donation from the Roatan Children’s Fund. They gave us lots of great books and school supplies to be used for our English classes that will begin on Monday, December 5, 2016. Part of our mission is to empower Roatan families and one of the ways that we plan on doing that is by becoming more involved with the children. They are the future and by working with them, we will spark a generational change. Special thanks to board member Janice Carter for reaching out to us, we truly are grateful for your generosity.

When God Has His Hands On Your Plans

When we decided to change courses in our business, we didn’t know exactly how things were going to unfold. First, I received a word from the lord, Next, a couple of months later a tragic incident occurred, afterwards, we decided to switch things around, next thing you know, we find out about a project that fits in to our new plans. Talk about divine intervention.

One week after the incident, Marshall  González  of Bay Islands Mission Outreach, an organization that supports socioeconomic aide in the poorest communities of the Bay Islands, visited us to offer his support. I explained our new plans to him and he told me of a project that was designated for our community.

Little did we know….

Two years ago, Roatan Because We Care, an organization that focuses on helping the needy and reaching out into the most remote places of Roatan, worked with The Mentz Foundation to create a sewing project for women.

The Mentz Foundation is a non-profit organization with the mission to provide medical supplies, food, clothing and other essential items to underserved communities throughout the world. Members of the foundation brought sewing machines, supplies and fabric for the Handmade on Roatan Project.

The project started in the Brass Hill section of Coxen Hole. The ladies who participated have been able to make a living off of the clothes that they make. One of the ladies said she was “so blessed to have an opportunity to earn income while still being able to manage her household.”

This same blessing made its way to our beautiful community of Punta Gorda two weeks ago. Theresa Renee Arriaga of the Mentz Foundation and volunteers arrived with sewing machines, fabric and tools to give us a huge head start on the Handmade On Roatan Project – Punta Gorda.

Do you see what happens when God has his hands on your plans? Miracles, coincidences and “perfect timing” situations.

Why we decided to change direction in our business

The term “Step Up Roatan” started out as just an emotional response to the shooting that occurred at Flamingo Cultural Center on September 25, 206. Since then, we’ve gotten so much positive feedback that it has evolved into a movement.

Prior to the incident, we were operating  primarily as a bar. After the incident, we decided to remove the bar aspect and  operate as a non profit organization. Our mission is to empower Roatan families and preserve our unique Garifuna culture.

This shift in direction was more like the revival of a dormant idea that was sitting in my spirit. My lord and savior took what the enemy intended for bad and used it for good. Only he could create the perfect setup to prevent a tragedy. Let me explain:

Usually, on Sunday’s, we had our regulars plus new visitors, it was our busiest night of the week. At closing time (10:00pm) we always had to excuse ourselves because people did not want to leave. However, on the night of the shooting, for some reason, by 9:15pm, all of our guests were gone, with the exception of the shooter and his two victims.

At that time, I usually go to the house to check on the kids while my husband keeps an eye on the business. On that night for some reason, my husband went to check on the kids while I stayed at the business. After her heard the gunshots he ran out of the house to see what was going on. As he was running towards the business he saw the shooter fleeing the scene. At that moment, he thought the shooter was the victim running for his life. Because of this, he ran towards him with the intentions of helping, but instead was shot at three times. For some reason the only thing my husband felt, was the sand brush his leg.

That night, as I laid on my husband’s chest and watched my 7-month-old daughter sleep, my eyes watered as my nerves kicked in. It hit me all at once how different our night could have ended. I had a quiet moment with the lord to try and calm my nerves. That’s when he revealed to me the reason why everything happened.

The reason why this occurred at the most unexpected place, at the perfect time is because the lord chose me and my family to make a difference. Instead of running away in fear or continuing with business as usual, we took a stand.

We stopped operating as a bar by night and put our efforts in creating programs for women & children. As of November 2016, we will offer English classes for children ages 7-17 yrs old and sewing classes for women. Our mission is to convert Flamingo Cultural Center into a safe haven for women and children, and a cultural preservation site for our Garifuna ancestors. For more information on how you can support our movement CLICK HERE.