Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fourth Month on Site

Good morning!

I will do my best to be coherent, but I admit my mind is elsewhere as I await the arrival of my fiancee Sarah here in Panama City this afternoon. After not seeing her for almost six months, I am truly grateful for the chance to have her visit. She is on a plane from Tampa to Miami at the moment. My host family already gave her a Ngabere name, so you'll have to ask her what her new name is!

The past month or so has had its mix of good and bad. A prime example is watching my first Vikings game as they beat Dallas 34-3, only to hear through the phone that they weren't able to make it to the Super Bowl. At least the Twins will sign Joe Mauer, right?

I don't know if you heard it on CNN or not, but Panama has 10 new graduates of English 101. After conducting their oral interviews in English, our group celebrated with chicken, rice, kool-aid, and dominoes (playing dominoes, not eating dominoes).

On a sad note, my cheap Digicel international calling plan ended on January 15th. The price per minute rose from 3 cents to 15 cents, so I apologize in advance for not making as many phone calls. If you want to chat, email me and we can set up a Skype call!

I have been a proud engineer, seeing the people of my community become better engineers by the day. In two communities, we used a surveying device made of PVC, clear plastic tubing, and water to survey the entire acueduct system. Using the data, I can enter the numbers into a computer program to make a nice spiffy map of their system, complete with horizontal distance, vertical distance, flow, and pipe diameter. During the surveying process, they taught me how to communicate to friends far away by yelling at the top of my lungs in different vocal patterns. We also celebrated a long days work by playing baseball. Ground balls are a bit tricky on the uneven terrain.

Our community also organized wood pit latrine workdays. The owner who wants the latrine built would get the materials ready and cook food while the workers would work all day and eat the food. It's great to see everyone working together to make these beautiful works of art called latrines.

A representative from the Ministry of Environmental Health came and visited our site last week. We were able to have a great discussion on Community Organization and Participation and were able to lay out how the Environmental Health Ministry, Peace Corps, and the community can work together to improve environmental health.

A member of our own community working for a government agency put together a workday on organic fertilizer. Everyone came with a big sack full of ash, dried leaves, rice husks, horse manure, and even a fermented corn drink. They were making jokes all day on how they couldn't believe the alcoholic drink was better off in the ground making compost than in their stomachs.

Another current project is writing solicitudes for the latrine and aquaduct projects. We will be soliciting help from the district representative, mayor, and two government agencies. Next up will be putting together material and price lists.

The last highlight was our Comarca Regional Meeting. We got caught up on our different projects and even had time for an organic coffee and wine tour. I highly recommend it!

Ask the audience: Vote for your Top 5 photos from my Picasa albums-the link is located on the right margin above. I'm going to submit photos to make a Peace Corps Panama Photo Calendar. Leave a comment below with

1) The Album Name
2) The row and column of the photo

Thanks for reading! I'm off to spend two awesome weeks with my fiancee! Goodbye!



  1. We talked to Sarah earlier this morning as she was waiting in the plane that will take her to Panama. She is so excited to be so close to being there! We are proud of you both and the strength and love that you share along this journey. Enjoy each other and be safe. Counting the days til we see you again. Love,
    Cheryl and Paul

  2. Wow, you have been up to a lot in just 4 months! The work you are doing is great and I'm sure appreciated by many. I liked the photos of the family on the donkeys and the two little girls photo and think you should send those in to the Peace Core.
    I am also very impressed by your faith in God on this trip. Remember the passage, "Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest" - Joshua 1:9
    Good luck and keep up the good work!

  3. Kevin, hey tell Sarah I said hi and that I miss you both! It sounds like Christ is really using you to help further His love, and that is sooooo exciting!

    I looked at your pics a little too, and I wanted to vote on a couple! =)
    1) From the album "First Month on Site" row four and column five, the caption is "here they come" that is such an adorable picture!
    2) "Third month on site" album, 3rd row, first picture, that is totally breathtaking.

    Okay well have fun with your gorgeous fiancé and tell her I said hi if you can, you both are in my prayers!

    ~ Alex

  4. We know you are enjoying some long awaited time together. Thinking about you both and look foward to hearing all about your trip. We love you and miss you.

    Cheryl and Paul

  5. Hope these are not too late:

    4th month album:
    6 of 39 I like how the farmer's face has such pride in sharing his skill in farming.
    17 of 39 Everybody wants to help shows the sense of community that makes these people strong.
    39 of 39 I love her curiosity. This must be the daily reward to you.
    3rd month album:
    18 of 39 An example of the families that embrace the Peace Corps volunteer
    1st month album:
    49 of 51 I never thought that they would NOT have had a map of their area. What a great tool and to see both perspectives - men and women. Love that it empowers both groups to bond their community. Plus the women's map was way more detailed than the mens!