Panama | Day 4, January 9th

After the best sleep so far in Panama, we woke up for day two of work. At promptly eight o’clock we headed to breakfast. Local is the best way to eat in Panama so of course we had to try out another new local place to eat. In Panama the food is heavy at every meal, so I ordered a traditional dish of steak and fried tortillas. Steak for breakfast may seem weird to you, but people in Panama are hard working and need lots of protein and carbs to get through the day.

After breakfast we went to the fire station to load supplies for the day. We loaded boxes of rice, water filters, crutches and walkers. While counting and organizing boxes, Hannah had the great surprise of finding a scorpion but luckily Jeff came to the rescue and killed it. While they were organizing I was in the van, taking inventory of all the medical supplies we also would be taking to the village.

We left for the village Bethel. The road to Bethel was an interesting drive because it was up the hills and into the more rural part of Panama. Once we got to the village we split into groups. Two groups went to take surveys of the use of the water filters. while the other went saw the main water source for the village and inspected their main filtration system. This group found out the filtration system has not been working in fifteen years. The homes we came across were quite a shock to us. One house had no walls, just a wood floor with a few beams holding up the ceiling. 

After arriving at the village we proceed to walk around the town and do surveys on the water filters that had been previously distributed. I was shocked at the amount of poverty in the small village. One house was built up on a shaking platform and did not have walls. Walking in the house felt risky, as if the floor would crumble beneath our feet. While visiting the house it was obvious that more than 8 people lived in this small space. 

Continuing on with the surveys we realized that the other houses in the village were not much better then this one. After the long journey around the town we made our way back to the school, where some of the locals had cooked us fried fish and yucca. Yucca is a food that resembles a potato, and trust me is just as good. While two teams did the surveys the engineering team hiked up a distance to see the source of water for this town. When this team arrived back they ate and just minutes later people arrived to pick up boxes of food to bring back to there household. Many of the people that came were the same people we surveyed about the water filters. It was so inspiring to see the gratitude in their eyes. As well as coming for food, some people came because they or their children were sick and needed care. A few of us got to assist with caring for a feverish baby due to the fact that she was teething.  All in all it was a very exciting and rewarding day in the village.

As we journeyed home I had the great pleasure of seeing five wild monkeys in a tree. Everyone kept their eyes out for more but we didn't see any. 

That night we went back to the same restaurant we had that morning for more delicious Panamanian cuisine. After dinner we came back to the hotel and had a surprise Birthday celebration for Jesica who had turned 22 on the 6th. The food consisted of jello and a white cake with blueberry frosting and filling. It was the perfect mix of the sweet Panama flavored. As a team we gained so much information today and I am excited to see what we learn as the week progresses. 

-Amanda Stuchlik

 

The team loaded boxes and counted the remaining boxes for inventory. With 333 boxes left at 33lbs each we were happy the number pattern didn't continue after finding a baby scorpion at the bottom of the stack!

The team loaded boxes and counted the remaining boxes for inventory. With 333 boxes left at 33lbs each we were happy the number pattern didn't continue after finding a baby scorpion at the bottom of the stack!

What seemed to feel like our headquarters- the Chepo firestation!

What seemed to feel like our headquarters- the Chepo firestation!

Student civil engineers Julia and Ramin pictured with student designer Mollie and our Bethel water-supply guide Pascuel. He will be 74 in May and walks 5 hours (10 hours a day) going to Bethel and back from his farm. Truly incredible and we are grateful for his knowledge and willingness to share their story!

Student civil engineers Julia and Ramin pictured with student designer Mollie and our Bethel water-supply guide Pascuel. He will be 74 in May and walks 5 hours (10 hours a day) going to Bethel and back from his farm. Truly incredible and we are grateful for his knowledge and willingness to share their story!

With every food donation we are required to photograph the event to help keep track of the families who receive aid.

With every food donation we are required to photograph the event to help keep track of the families who receive aid.

Amanda and Karina tag-team to help distract the baby from crying and to check her vitals. 

Amanda and Karina tag-team to help distract the baby from crying and to check her vitals.