Aug 29, 2013

Visiting a Mission in Canas Verdes

Boquete has a variety of expat-funded charities established in recent years by multiple USA, Canadian and European transplants.  The constant clamoring for money, attention, goods, and volunteerism can turn even the most well-meaning among us a little cynical.  As for me, I was born cynical. 

But, like most of us, I do feel the call to do something  in some way that is life affirming and ego gratifying. I'm having a hard time finding the right cause, though.  Aside from helping neighbors in small ways with loans and other assistance, and doing some English tutoring off and on,  I can't say I've done much.  It's not that I'm unwilling, it's just that I'm jaded and want to find the right opportunity.   

This morning I accompanied a small group of Christians to the community of Canas Verdes, where fourteen Ngobe Bugle families are learning about the Lord while enjoying child care and full stomachs.  Their needs are being met by a warm Panamanian couple who have lived among the Ngobe for the last 12 years.  These people are living in primitive quarters without electricity or running water.   The road to the community is unpaved, even ungraded in spots, and dark and treacherous in others.  Four wheel drive is required to drive in, and even then, one can't drive more than 5 mph.  It's a 25 minute "drive" in a good vehicle. 

On this trip, the objective was to deliver solar lights to the families.  Money for the devices was contributed by school children affiliated with the Pentecostal Church of God, in Bedford, Texas.  Apparently the children sold candy bars and raised $500 which was used to purchase the lighting. The devices are nifty, sturdy, light-weight globes that can be carried as flashlights, or placed upright in stands to function as lamps.  They can also be used to charge cell phones, which is truly a godsend,  given the nearest electrical outlet is an hour's walk down the mountain to the tiny outpost known as Palmira Arriba.

Above, Gene Melton is providing instructions in assembly and use of the lights, aided by interpreter Raquel Sitton.  Below, Ana, the Panamanian wife who gives her time so freely to care for and feed the Ngobe children, is demonstrating the solar panel and how to connect it.  In the foreground is Bob Wilson, whose mission work lead to the donation. 

The overall objective in this union of the Bob & Marcela Wilson ministries with Ana and Rodrigo's dedication to their neighbors, is construction of a small community center where people can come together for feeding, education and worship.  Apparently this center has been the focus of Ana and Rodrigo's prayers for the last 12 years.  It's underway, with the beginning of what seemed an insurmountable funding of about $20,000.  Ground has been broken, and manpower will hopefully be dedicated to erecting the walls in the next two weeks.  Meanwhile, Ana continues to feed and watch the children, whose parents leave them in the dawn-filled  mornings to toil away for a meager day's wages in the coffee fields of surrounding plantations. Rodrigo works closely with the parents, gives weekly bible sermons, and handles numerous physical jobs around their minimal home/meeting place.

For anyone interested in learning more about the project, or possibly even donating money and/or time to help, you can learn more at this link:  I hope to provide intermittent updates, as I suspect I will get more involved in this endeavor.