Ngöbe Children´s Project
Thank you for taking the time to read this description of the Ngöbe
Children´s Project. The village of Soloy is an Ngöbe community
on the Ngöbe Buglé Reservation nestled in the tropical mountains
of Panama. In Soloy, educators with very few resources have worked tirelessly
to improve the educational opportunities for the students. The aim of
the Ngöbe Children's Project is to advance the quality and accessibility
of education for children in the community, by providing access to English
education at an early age, as well as providing other means of support
for children attending school, such as clothing and after school activities.
The Ngöbe Children's Project, under the auspices of medo, aims to
provide support to the schoolchildren living in Soloy, an Ngöbe community
on the Ngöbe-Buglé Reservation in Panama.
Ngöbe children face many challenges. First and foremost, there are
insufficient schools on the reservation. In the more remote places, primary
education is, at best, substandard. Teachers have to travel for hours
on foot to reach their classes. Often, multiple grades are taught together,
and classes are frequently canceled for months. After their elementary
education, children must travel miles away to Soloy for junior high and
high school, and are often unprepared for higher level instruction. Although
some families move with their children, a good number of the children
move to Soloy by themselves, and walk three or four hours home every weekend.
These children must take care of themselves during the school week, without
parental support or guidance. Another problem facing many Panamanian indigenous
groups such as the Ngöbe is child labor, which is inexorably linked
with poverty. These children often work in dangerous or labor intensive
jobs, and are denied education. With greater support for the school children
of Soloy, more will be encouraged to attend and stay in school, and through
educating these young minds, the entire region can be uplifted.
One of the primary services the project will offer is English classes
and tutoring for schoolchildren. Knowledge of English in particular will
enhance the students´ opportunities for advancing their education,
as well as opening up greater employment possibilities. This will ultimately
help advance the socioeconomic development of the surrounding community.
With the average gross income being less than $200 per year for most families,
any education (especially knowledge of English) can lead to more employment
opportunities and help raise the standard of living.
One of the objectives of medo is to enable more Ngöbe people to pursue
university studies within Panama and to be able to study internationally.
Some will likely return home and use their knowledge and skills to assist
the development of the Ngöbe-Buglé people. English is the
second official language of Panama. A good knowledge of English can help
a student advance in all areas of education.
This project is the brainchild of Adán Bejerano, who began English
classes for the community in 2002 after having studied Integrated Natural
Resources Technology at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon.
He is responsible for recruiting, organizing, and supporting volunteers.
At present, there is a long term American volunteer working with Adan
on developing the project. For the foreseen future, the project will be
staffed by primarily international volunteers.
" Initially, the English classes will focus on children in fifth
and sixth grades, as these children are in special need of attention.
Of course, with more volunteers and resources, the classes will be expanded
to include more grades and levels of English instruction. High school
students will be encouraged to join the community English classes, also
arranged by the medo.
" The volunteer will work with the medo staff to elicit clothing
donations, from individuals and institutions both locally and abroad.
Clothing will either be given away or sold at a token price, at the discretion
of the volunteer.
" After school activities, such as homework tutoring, sports, games,
and arts and crafts, are also activities that the Children's Project will
The project is currently building up its resources. It does not have any
source of funding, and currently has only a small collection of English
books. There is no permanent building for medo. English classes take place
in a room rented from a Japanese volunteer house, which is powered by
solar electricity. It is a long term goal of medo to acquire a permanent
facility for classes, after school activities, volunteer residence, material
storage, an area where students can study, and a library. A library would
greatly benefit the community, as one does not exist anywhere in the area.
For these dreams to materialize, financial donations and grants will be
Medo's Children's Project will be of great benefit to the school children
of Soloy. Through supporting these young minds we can improve their chances
for continued education and a bright future. There is a great need for
this kind of project in this area of widespread poverty and few resources.
CD& tape player $100
Music (4 cds) $60
Books, guides, videos $400
Bookstory (6 cds and books) $100