When Royal Caribbean cruise ships suspended port calls in Roatan until November as part of its regular seasonal rotation, the Roatan employees of Diamond International found themselves with a lot of time on their hands.
Diamond employs 75 sales people at three jewelry stores in the cruise ship ports on Roatan – two in Mahogany Bay and one at the Port of Roatan, where the Royal Caribbean ships dock.
“We decided we’re not going to lay off anybody,” said Andy Athwani. Instead, Diamond determined to put its seasonally underemployed sales staff to work one day a week on community service projects, “to give back to the community.”
Athwani said the company contacted Roatan Mayor Julio Galindo to ask how its workers could best be put to use. Galindo suggested they help out at the construction site for the Arline & Bill Addison School being built in Sandy Bay, next to the Island’s Gym.
Although none of Diamond’s sales workers had construction experience, Athwani took all his team there to see how they could chip in. Since then they have been going back a half day a week to help with cleaning up the grounds and other unskilled tasks.
The school, financed by the Municipal Government at a cost of Lps. 18 million, will provide class space for 1,100 students in grades one through six from the Sandy Bay area and also from West End and other adjacent communities. It is expected to open in July. Galindo boasts it will be the best school in Honduras, although he admits that staffing and equipping it will be another matter.
Diamond’s staff have also been put to work on other community projects since Royal Caribbean port calls were suspended, including visiting a nursery school to do some maintenance and entertain and read to the children.