Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fifth Month on Site

Good afternoon!

I can´t believe I´ve already been on my site for five months! In another five months, Sarah and I will already have spent our first month together here in Panama!

1. School Started!

Recently, the kids started school and many trampling feet can be heard outside my doorway every morning. I attended planning meetings with the school director and teachers the week before school started and now I´ve been helping out in class once a week. They received new teachers in English and Home this year, but they lack teachers for fifth grade, so they´ve spent the first two weeks of class at home--what a shame!

I´m continueing onto English 102, having a smaller class of around 5 students every Sunday evening. The teacher from the school who attends my class said he would like to teach Ngabere before my English class, which I´m really excited about.

2. Baptism Weekend

In my community exists one church, belonging to the Seventh Day Adventists. Every year they invite everyone to a baptism weekend down at the river, where they have musical worship Friday night, a Saturday worship service, and then a baptism service Saturday afternoon.

I was told that it was a three hour hike, so I packed up my clothes, sleeping pad, bible, and set out with my host family. Three hours later we were halfway there, I was told. Fortunately, an agency truck came by and brought us most of the rest of the way. Arriving there six hours after setting out, I arrived to find one thousand Ngabere people camped out on the ground, most without tents.

Needless to say, I didn´t get too much sleep as people visited all night and babies cried to the mothers in hunger and nervousness. For our meals, we had community-wide corn drinks and rice with beans.

I really enjoyed meeting new people, watching 150 people get baptised, and taking pictures of my host brother singing in a quartet in front of everybody. Pictures can be found on the Picasa link on the right margin.

3. Environmental Health Update

I´ve talked quite a bit about the cultural part of my work, but there is the continueing environmental health project as well.

In one community, we elected a new latrine directive, I gave a charla on how to pick the pit latrine location, and have a follow-up date to walk house to house to verify that the latrines are located away from rivers, wells, and not too far from the house.

The main line was just surveyed, taking almost 3 days with a team of six each day. We also found a new spring that could be used to give water to five houses up on the hill who aren´t currently connected to the main line. While I was hiking to the spring, I was told to ¨watch out!¨. Not knowing what to watch out for, I turned around to find a six-foot boa a few feet away from where I had just set down my foot. They´re not poisonous, but it did make my heart jump!

In a second community, I sat down with the latrine directive to write solicitudes to the mayor, regional representative, and two government ministries. I´m told that we should expect too much help from the mayor or representative because all their money is being spent to bring electricity along the road to the regional government office up on the hill. We´re also looking for material prices to include in our solicitudes.

In a third community I´m working with, we had a community meeting and then a community workday to clear and survey an existing aquaduct line to connect more houses. I also had the opportunity to visit another volunteer to help make a concrete pit latrine.

4. Biking Mishap

I bought a bike from the previous volunteer, so I´ve been using the bike to make occasional day trips for food and internet. As I was returning back to my site, I heard a pop and found that my bike tube on my back tire had broke. I walked twenty minutes to the stores along the Pan-American highway. Expecting to drop off my bike at the store and head to the bigger city to find a new tube, I found that the store had a bike tube that was just the right size. Not having the equipment to fix it, the store owner said that her friend would fix it for a Pepsi. I accepted the offer immediately, adding a package of Doritos to the deal as well.

I´m thankful to have a community that´s eager to help out a volunteer such as myself!

Well that´s all from here. I hope this update finds you healthy, safe, and in the company of those you love.


He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8


  1. Hi Kevin, Just a quick note to say hello and let you know I was thinking of you. We had a wonderful Easter brunch, missing you of course, and Sarah beamed that in 5 months she will be getting married!! We are so happy for you both and are counting the days til your visit in May.
    Cheryl and Paul

  2. Hahaha. I love the barter of bike repair for Doritos and a Pepsi! I know flats are no fun; glad you could get it fixed.