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Buenos Vecinos de Boquete September Newsletter

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Just Like Our BVB Kids, Sweet Potatoes Come In All Shapes and Sizes

Project Sweet Potato/ Food-Starter is well underway. Many of our families planted the sweet potato root we placed in their July food bags with simple-to-follow instructions. Even more indicated they would plant this latest batch they received in their August bags. With this last batch to be delivered in late September, our families will have an on-going harvest for the next few months. And by replanting the hundreds of roots and runts from all of these harvests, they are well on their way to creating their own sweet potato farms.

New vegetables and fruits will soon be added; papaya, and moringa trees, yucca and other favorites like guandu beans (pidgeon peas) will be our next endeavors. Guandu is to the Panamanian holiday table what cranberries, green bean casserole or roast turkey are to the U.S. holiday meal.

To help us with this ambitious program we only need to look within our own volunteer ranks. John Rhoades is a new but very active and energetic BVB volunteer. He packs and delivers food to families, and now he has taken on the job as Food-Starter Coordinator. His interest and experience in agriculture and his access to a local greenhouse owner and other resources make him the perfect choice to spearhead this important program helping our families learn how to grow some of their own food. Thank you, John!


Family of the Month Luis and Irma

Though he does not own this rambling cattle ranch, Luis manages it for an absentee owner who pays him only $180 a month. Luis and his family care for the herd, clear the fallen trees, mend fences, and maintain the property using two horses. There is no machinery and everything must be done by hand. It is a hot dirty job that requires their attention every day. Luis is willing to take on this big responsibility to support his wife Irma and their six children. They live on the ranch in a two-room house of bamboo walls with a zinc roof. They use cardboard to sleep on to protect them from the dampness of the dirt floor. Their outside kitchen consists of a wood stove and cooking utensils and pots that are old and almost unusable.

The oldest daughter named after her mother is seventeen and was born without a tongue, but her disability does not affect the way she lovingly cares for all of her younger siblings. She has two sisters, Juana, 15 and Odilia, 12 and three brothers Domingo, 12 Eugenio, 10 and Lazaro, 5. None of the family can read or write. The younger children would like to attend school, but there is no money for uniforms, shoes or school supplies. They are a close-knit family and have little contact with others beyond the ranch, so they have struggled through these problem with little or no help until now.

When we heard of this family’s living conditions we immediately accepted them for a double-portion of food. Two of our BVB volunteers sprang into action and donated a large collection of pots and pans. The volunteer who brought this family to our attention approached a local hostel that was renovating their property and was able to secure the donation of three like-new mattresses for the family. We are also finding out more about what can be done to get some of these children in school.

Though this family represents some of the most extreme examples of hardship we encounter at BVB, their story is not unusual. Panama is also experiencing inflation, food shortages and supply change disruptions like much of the rest of the world. However, in July nation-wide demonstrations and strikes that blocked the country’s primary highway caused additional damage to the agricultural industry resulting in mass layoffs of farm workers and other food industry laborers. We thank all of our newsletter and social media readers for their continued prayers, kind thoughts and donations of any size as we endeavor to help our neighbors in need.

Irma and kids admiring the mattresses donated by Wanakaset Panama, a hostel in Macano de Cochea and their representative, Mariel.

Volunteers of the Month Trish and Brian Christofferson


Trish and Brian have been faithful BVB volunteers since 2008. Besides her current positions as Co-Chairperson, Secretary and Social Media Coordinator, Trish performs other administrative tasks to keep track of prospective and current volunteer information, collect our PayPal donations and send thank you notes to all of our donors, route our emails and organize our packing volunteers. Yes, she wears a lot of hats! And she has also been on the food-pack line and helped with many fund-raising events for over a decade. She and Brian deliver food to six families every month, many of whom have become like family. All of us at BVB are grateful for their dedication and hard work. Moreover, we feel so fortunate to work along side this genuinely kind and gracious couple.

Buenos Vecinos de Boquete exists to help people like this, who are unable to meet their basic food needs. We have provided emergency food support on many occasions and have been successful in helping families through hard times. We will help them with food support until the working age adults in the family can find enough income to become self-sustaining.

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If you prefer to donate by cash or local check you can see Louise Orr at the Tuesday Market or contact Trish at buenosvecinos79@gmail.com

Be sure to check out our website and Facebook page:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BuenosVecinosDeBoquete/
Website:  http://www.buenosvecinosdeboquete.com/
 Text  Description automatically generated  As always, we must thank our very valued donors!
  We owe you all a big thank you!  
Thank you!
Copyright © 2022 Buenos Vecinos de Boquete, All rights reserved.
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