During an informal and informative reception held at Mahogany Bay Village, the organizers of On Eagles Wings Ministries (OEWM) Belize and SHINE Girls Club outlined their vision for building a SHINE Center on Ambergris Caye. Invited guests mingled with those who have undertaken the task to bring the center to fruition, discussing goals and ways to achieve them.
Shaping Healthy Identities through Nurturing and Empowerment (SHINE) was created in 2014 by Michelle Nuñez and has been actively championed by OEWM Belize. Since its inception, it has given young teenaged girls (13-16) an incredible opportunity to feel empowered and make better decisions during some of their most trying times.
As the program has grown, the need has certainly been felt for a permanent location to host the girls through their 6-week empowerment courses. Beyond the young women’s need for a space to interact and feel secure, there is also a need to provide a safe haven for abused women and children, and victims of human trafficking, amongst other issues. There is no place on the island offering shelter to the displaced that have made the difficult decision to leave their abuser. As such, the numbers who do in fact walk away to begin a better life are marginal.
$550,000 BZ is the goal figure that needs to be raised, and that is what Tom Camacho, US Board Chairman of OEWM was on the island to discuss with attendees. The February 25th dinner was the first public discussion regarding plans for the SHINE Center, and was held in a building similar in size to the one expected to be built. The center will be located just south along the airstrip, between the Fitness Club and Distributors Center. The two-story, 33’ x 45’ building will provide a permanent location for SHINE, a private counseling room, a school of social enterprise as well as a mini-suite for those seeking respite before venturing on their own. With hopes to expand and offer teenage boys an opportunity to empower themselves as well (because abuse knows no gender), the Center will be able to host both groups with ease.
With the goal to complete the building by the end of 2016, OEWM and SHINE have launched a Capital Campaign. Several local businesses and community members have already sponsored, and more is needed. Checks can be made payable to “On Eagles Wings Ministries Belize”. Credit card donations are accepted through the OEWM website http://www.oneagleswingsministries.org/ Visitors are asked to choose the Donate tab, then choose the OEWM Belize option to give. 100% of proceeds go towards building and furnishing the center.
Third SHINE Program begins
While the capital campaign continues, Michelle Nuñez has been joined by Britney Travis in the third semester of the empowerment program. Orientation day was on Saturday, February 27th, and the new group of girls was joined by current Miss San Pedro Iris Salguero. Nuñez and company look forward to a successful course, and she hopes that the young girls benefit from the prepared curriculum.