Help the Community of El Pantano!

Trip Start May 14, 2006
1
9
Trip End Aug 17, 2008


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Flag of Panama  ,
Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hey Everyone!

Well, this will be one of my last entries. My last official day as a Peace Corps Volunteer will be the 16th of July! and it looks like I am going to be as busy as a Peace Corps Volunteer can be in the next 3 months.

The first big project that I have been working on has been to organize a Vision Clinic with a group of Berkley Optometry students and Doctors.  They will be coming down in June and will be giving free eye exams and glasses to my community and two surrounding communities (one being a VERY poor indigenous site). Iīve recently started telling my community members about the clinic and am expecting hundreds of people to show up each day. I am very excited about this project!!!!!

The second big project that I am working on is up-dating the elementary school kitchen. I submitted the grant proposal in January and it is finally up on the web, check it out.

www.peacecorps.gov
-Donate Now (found on the left side of the page)
-Donate to Volunteers Projects
-Search by Country of Service (enter Panama)
-Click on Primary School Refurbishment, A.Lee

Hereīs the story the Peace Corps website will not tell you.........

I had a group of 10 members of my community (parents - most of whom did not go to school past the 6th grade -and teachers) working on this grant proposal. I actually never thought it would come to fruition. First of all, it has been extremely difficult getting anyone to show up to meetings in my community. So when my mom told me that the principal of her school wanted to organize some fund -raisers for a project for the school in El Pantano I thought "awesome! guaranteed money will definitely get people to show up to a meeting", but it didnīt and I was not about to work on this project alone. By the third time I scheduled the meeting to start up the project people showed up. Together we designed and came up with a plan as to how the project and the money would be managed. Next I translated the application into Spanish and made them fill out the entire application with me. Finally, I had them participate in a leadership seminar. I hope that after going through this process that they will now have more confidence to organize and start up a project on their own. So, the hard part is now behind us and the fun part is ahead of us. In my last entry I included a photo of the school kitchen, as you all can see itīs pretty shabby. The group came up with about $3000 worth of repairs theyīd like to make, but I was a little worried about coming up with that amount, so we scaled the request amount down. They decided that the essentials were: new tables and chairs (so all the kids can eat at once), a propane stove (so the women donīt have to prepare food over an open fire), a new pantry, new pots and pans, enough plates and silverware for all the kids and a fresh coat of paint. There is so much more that the kitchen not to mention the entire school needs, but this will definitely help. The kids at my moms school have already raised some money and we are still a little short, so your help would be appreciated very much.

Ok I hate asking for money so on to other things. At times I thought that these 2 years would never end and at times I could not wait for my time here to be up, but as the end draws near I find myself not wanting for this experience to be over. I have talked about wanting to do the Peace Corps for probably close to 10 years now and I am so glad that I finally followed through with it. I am really looking forward to finishing up my projects and enjoying my community and my new friends before I return home to my family and old friends.Once again THANK YOU for your continued support, I would not have survived these last 2 years with out all of you.

Take Care,
Arisia






 
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