When I had my first concept of Garinet in the mid 90's, I was attending Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, New York for my Computer Science degree. Prior to attending this school, I was already versed on many aspects of technologies(since around 1992), but I wanted to strengthen my skills to serve my Garifuna community better, rather than having all these great ideas in my head, passing away tomorrow, without contributing a bit to the progress of the Garifuna nation.
My father, Ruben Reyes, has always had a great sense of Garifuna culture in his blood. During my breaks from school, I would travel to Los Angeles, where he is stays. During a year period, I would make at least three trips to Los Angeles from New York and every time I would go back with some more Garifuna in me!
During these trips I found my dad working on some the following projects:
- Translating the national anthem of Honduras into Garifuna
- Translating the national anthem of Guatemala into Garifuna
- Creating a Garifuna clock, which we animated to display the real time
- A Garifuna compass
- Creating schematics of the Garifuna village, Santa Rosa de Aguan, before and after hurricane mitch
- A Garifuna dictionary, which has taken over ten years º, but it helped me learn more about the Garifuna language.
Combining the strong Garifunaness that I had learned from my father, with my strong technology background, gave birth to a project that, we all know as Garinet.
By the late 1990¡¦s, I had transferred most of my research from my head into something that could be shared. With the help of my great friend, Rigoberto Mejia, a Garifuna teacher, song writer/singer and the best Garifuna database programmer that I¡¦ve ever known, organizing the contextual part of the project, became very easy. At the time, Rigo, was living in Brooklyn, New York, where I was staying with my mother.
We had a project, we had the culture, we had the technology, but we were missing one of the most important ingredients, the people. To this, we all, awe it to the great Dixon Marin. You would not hear about Dixon¡¦s name very often, but those few that knew him, were more than pleased to have him around. I met Dixon through a cousin of mine, named Hernan Mejia. Hernan, gave me Dixon¡¦s AOL instant messenger account, so I added Dixon to my buddy list and waited patiently. One day, while I was working on something, I can¡¦t quite recall what exactly, but, I saw Dixon¡¦s account get online. I introduced myself, mentioned the Garinet plan and we agreed to meet two weeks later.
Two weeks passed by very fast and I was anxious to share the project with Dixon. I prepared for meeting and took the train to meet at Dixon¡¦s house in the Bronx, New York. When I arrived at his place there were about fifteen to twenty Garifuna individuals. I had prepared for everything, but not to meet a crowd of that proportion. At the time I was just beginning to socialize, so I was a bit shy around multitude of people, but sure, I was not going to let that ruin the opportunity of my life. I think I was the youngest in the group, so I wasted no time and got right to the deliverance. I made my introduction, and explained my concept of the project. Since I was not expecting a large crowd, I took the single copy of documents that I had and passed it around while I explained all the categories that I had researched.
Although, I may not remember the names of every individual that was present at that first meeting, I can almost remember the ones that took action and stayed around long enough for me to get acquainted with their names, which are the following:
- Dixon Marin
- Meldy Perez (Dixon¡¦s sister)
- Andoni Castillo
- Dilnyn Castillo
- Members of Libaba Baba, a Garifuna organization lead by Andoni Castillo
- Ronny Martinez
- Vilo Lopez
- Jorge Cacho (at the time, now Jorge Garifuna)
One thing I learned about myself is that, in many cases, I know exactly what it is that I want, although, I may not know how to get it. Having said that, I had the categories of the items that we wanted to present to the world, but the actual information had to be written. We made delegations on that first meeting and I remember very clearly, that Don Guity Ubafu, pulled out a pen and a paper and started writing the purpose of Garinet right there and then, based on the information that I had shared. Although slightly modified, the existing ¡§About Us¡¨ section of Garinet.com, it was something that was originally written by Don Guity Ubafu.
We had subsequent meetings, during the weekends, where more community members attended and contributed great inputs into the project. Some of these individuals are:
- Andres Cayetano
- Dely Suazo
- Justo Guity (German)
- And many others, which you can see at Garinet contributors page
From a distance, Swamy Blanco and a great lady name Sandra, contributed with documents translations and editing.
The domain, Garinet.com, was registered on July 29, 1999 at 9:07PM. The project was launched and it finally became a reality! The world could officially have a taste of this community project that was put together, thanks to continuous team efforts of the Garifuna community.
Now that the ball was rolling there was nothing stopping it. Murphy Valentines, from Centro America Show, gave us the opportunity to present the project the community through his Television program.
In early 2000, Jerry Castro, jumped onboard and ever since has given us a steady doses of community & political insights. One of the early articles on record that Jerry contributed to Garinet is ¡§Garinagu in the 21st Century...The importance of your vote.¡¨ I take my hat off for Jerry, for being, one of the most persistent members that Garinet has ever had. Many of you probably heard about Garinet your first time, through Jerry Castro. I highly commend Jerry for his massive contribution to the Garinet project!
In 2000, we also had the late Joseph Flores join us with a newsletter titled ¡§The Texas Garifuna-Belizeans Community Newsletter.¡¨ You may still read many of the issues at the following link:
In 2001, Dixon Rochez, a Garifuna student at Clarkson University at the time, approached us fix the visual inconsistencies around the many pages that we had by then. I presented Dixon Rochez, with a set of templates, he chose the best one, incorporated his idea, we adapted it and created a content management program, utilizing his concept in the visual front. You may read more about Dixon Rochez at the following link:
In late 2002, while I was attending a Real Estate class at Century 21 in Long Beach, California, I received a call from a gentleman, who wanted to sell T-Shirts, through Garinet. Somewhere along the conversation came the topic of website design and how changes needed to be made to the Garinet face. I had heard this comment so many times from so many people, so I scripted myself with the following:
¡§Well, thank you for your observation. Garinet is a community project and you are more than welcome to contribute¡¨
At the time, Garinet was growing at a pace that it was hard to keep up without a proper content management system in place. In many cases, I found this script to filter out the doers from the talkers and it worked very well. Many talkers, never came back with second great talk, but doers, remained true to their words.
Luis David, sure turned out to be a doer. By Mid 2003 he was already working on a new interface for Garinet and the great visual changes that you have enjoyed on the front page of Garinet from Mid 2003 to the time of this writing, April 2005, has been provided by the great Garifuna graphic designer, Luis David. I commend Luis, for his great talent. His artistic graphic contribution to Garinet is, so far the greatest!
For the most part in 2003, I set myself the goal to automate the information management part of Garinet. I programmed a content management application, that allows my team members to enter the news/content as it comes through a web interface. I also spent all December of 2003, programming a web store that I had designed in the late 90s. During this year, Roselynn Lambert contributed one of the first published all-Garifuna articles to Garinet.
By 2004, Garinet was completely automated. All the thousands of pages of information that Garinet has, can now be managed from one single web based administrative management section. My brothers, Wilmer & Felipe Cacho, from Brooklyn, New York, update the news, health, sports, and entertainment sections daily.
On October of this same year, Cheryl Noralez, the organizer of the Garifuna forum 2005, was given special author access through one of the Garinet automated secure web interfaces, to post her articles for the Garifuna 101 section.
2005 has been a year of exponential growth for Garinet.com. We successfully reached one million hits per month from over one hundred different countries. More young contributors, such as Isidra Sabio, Reina David & Irene Aranda, join in.
The future looks very bright! Garinet Global currently holds over forty five domains under its wings in the areas of business, wholesale & retail, service & media, entertainment, education and non-profit. In the next two years we expect to be the leading provider of Garifuna websites, including creating a website for each Garifuna village.
The ultimate success of the Garinet project, is attributed to the continual support of the entire Garifuna community, which has kept it alive for over five years.
As we document the history of the Garinet project, I will be more than happy to include your name for your contribution to the Garinet project in the upcoming chapters of this historical book.
As you can see, when the Garifuna community works together we all win!
You may view some of the changes that Garinet.com has gone through from the following link:
Garinet Global Inc
http://www.garinagu.com/gallery - representing the largest Garifuna photo gallery in the world!
http://www.garidigital.com - representing your website needs
http://www.garinet.com - representing all the Garifuna community
http://www.puntamusic.com - representing the Punta Music
http://www.belizeanworld.com - representing Belize
http://www.guatemalavirtual.com - representing Guatemala
Coming soon: For all your music downloads GariDownloads.com