Ngöbe Children´s Project

Dear friends,

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.

Project Activities

" 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 help materialize.
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 sought.

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.

Dream Materials
Television $300
DVD $120
Blackboard $60
CD& tape player $100
Music (4 cds) $60
Books, guides, videos $400
Bookstory (6 cds and books) $100
Total $1140


created by anna zaniewski for medo 2007