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Jul 1, 2013

Blind youth prepares to dive Belize Blue Hole

Young Rowan Garel is preparing to take on another monumental challenge to raise funds for the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired.  The young blind boy, who has scaled Victoria Peak and walked across Belize, is now training to dive deep into the great Blue Hole.  His latest challenge is far more risky so Rowan has been busy training to take a forty feet plunge into what is believed to be the world’s largest blue hole. News Five’s Jose Sanchez caught up with Rowan earlier today.


Jose Sanchez, Reporting

He climbed the highest peak and walked across the country. Now, Rowan Garel intends to plummet to the depths in the Blue Hole Natural Monument to raise funds for the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired.


Rowan Garel

Rowan Garel, Ambassador for Sight

“I’m going to dive the Blue Hole on the 14th of July. And I can’t go all the way to bottom because I don’t have adequate training and because of my age; so am just going to be doing about maybe forty feet. I am not doing it only for personal accomplishment I am doing this because of the B.C.V.I. am doing this as a fundraiser. This is for their rehab program because many people don’t realize that the B.C.V.I. actually  goes into the houses of people like myself that are blind, that are visually impaired and they provide services such as providing equipment like canes and computers and all this is free of cost. But of course it is not free of cost for the B.C.V.I. So this is why i am doing the challenge.”


Carla Ayres Musa, Communications Officer, BCVI

“B.C.V.I does come into your home your home if you are blind or visually impaired and we provide equipment and devices or anything the person may need. But beyond that and what a larger chunk or our rehab program does is provide in house support. So basically the whole theme is community based rehabilitations. People who are blind need to learn how to operate in their homes, schools and communities. They don’t necessarily need to come to B.C.V.I. office and receive services at our office. So we have rehabilitation filed officer who go out throughout the country. They are stationed by zones north, west or central and south and they go into the house or they go into the schools and they just provide counseling. They sensitize and they provide early stimulation for babies, orientation and mobility for people who are newly blind or people who need to learn how to move around. And then we have education support which is where Rowan falls into where we actually go into schools and work with teachers and students to familiarize everyone and teach them how to work with the children who are blind.”


Jose Sanchez

“Why put yourself through all these strenuous activities: climbing to Victoria Peak, walking across the country. Is it to show other people who are visually impaired that they can accomplish anything?”


Rowan Garel, Ambassador for Sight

”That’s a part of the reason. A lot of people when they are speaking to me they don’t even want to use the word blind. Because they think it will offend me and if I am going to get offended every time I hear the word blind I won’t make it very far in life.  I am blind and that’s a part of who I am and best do anything you can and we can do anything that a sighted person can except see.”


But being blind underwater has one more challenge. Rowan would not be able to get voice instructions as he plummets in a world far more complicated.  The BCVI has made certain that Garel got the relevant training.


Carla Ayres Musa

Carla Ayres Musa

“What we are doing right now is that we are doing the online E-courses as well as the confined water dives and the open water dives sort of like practices that leads up to PADI certification. Rowan has had to have some adaptive devices made and some underwater flash cards made to work along with John because under water you need to be sighted to know what is going on. We just got word from the Casio Company in Japan that they will on loan be sending to us an underwater communication device Which will allow John Searle our instructor and Rowan to communicate under water using ultrasound waves so you can talk through your regulator and the person you are talking to can pick up through little device hanging on the mask what you are saying. So we are excited about that and hopefully we’ll have that by the time July 4th rolls around. But over the weekend we didn’t so we’ll have to make do and have our own signals that John has worked out with Rowan on how to come up and go down, clear your mask. It was Amazing to watch Rowan who we say disabled or challenged or whatever but I will use super enabled because he questions nothing, he is one hundred percent confident and it just helps that John and Linda are just so amazing at putting you at ease and just getting you to get in the water.”


On Sunday, Garel dove off the coast of Belize City and also at South Gallows Point at the G and R wall.


Carla Ayres Musa

“Rowan and his sister and I are diving the Blue Hole on July fourteenth. In order to raise one hundred thousand dollars because that’s about what our budget is for our rehab program. That will support twelve hundred people in our rehab program throughout Belize who are blind. If anyone wants to contribute they can do so at our website using PayPal that’s or you can also donate to Belize Bank account number 71096 or you can drop a donation off at our office on Princess Margaret Drive.”


Rowan Garel

“I do believe that I have an appreciation for nature. And this is only part of the reason because I cannot see the creatures, the animals so I am not afraid of them because of how they look…but I would pick up a frog or a toad and many people would not do so because they are ugly. I’m not like that. And it’s also because my dad has introduced these things from a very early age. He wants me to have the same experiences he did which is very good and I love that about him.”


Jose Sanchez

“So your dad will be accompanying you on this trip as well?”


Rowan Garel

“Yes, he will.”


He may be blind but he hopes that all will see the work of the BCVI and the capability of those we call disabled. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Blind youth prepares to dive Belize Blue Hole”

  1. Confidenshal says:

    !!!! Kudos, safe Trip, and remain enjoying Mother Nature’s Best Secret !!!!!!!

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