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Buenos Vecinos De Boquete Newsletter December 2023


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Buenos Vecinos de Boquete

In This Issue:

  • Giving in the Holiday Season


  • Client of the Month


  • Boquete Knitters


  • Volunteers of the Month



Giving In the Holiday Season

During the holiday season, we give thanks for friends and family as well as for the beautiful place in which we live. Lately, we have been especially thankful for the restoration of the things we generally take for granted – gas in the car, food in the fridge and propane to fuel our appliances. It also underscores how life is for BVB clients, so many of whom live in ramshackle dwellings with dirt floors, no electricity, and no running water.


Almost half of BVB’s clients have a disabled or handicapped family member, which sometimes means the head-of-household can only work sporadically or not at all, due to the amount of care needed by that family member. Even wage-earning families struggle to stretch their meagre earnings (between $280-$480 monthly) to put food on the table every night and send their children to school.


The supplemental non-perishable staples included in BVB’s monthly delivery (cooking oil, rice, beans, lentils, flour, salt, cereal, powdered milk, canned meat, and fish, etc.) are a lifeline for these families. But our work is not possible without ongoing support from our generous donors.


A $40 monthly donation helps feed a family of 4-5 people for a year. If you can afford to make this monthly commitment through our PayPal account, the amount is charged each month to your designated credit or debit card. You are not required to have a PayPal account yourself. Just visit our website at www.buenosvecinosdeboquete.com and click on HELP NOW. On the donation page, you will see the PayPal logo. Click on the “Donate” button and you will be directed to our PayPal account where you can enter your gift amount and check the box to make it a recurring monthly gift. If $40 is above your budget, we will be grateful for a monthly gift of any amount.


As a monthly sustaining donor, you can be a lifeline for a family in need and, because we are a volunteer organization with no office and no paid staff, your dollars go directly to purchasing food. We look forward to having you in the BVB family. If you are already a donor, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!


To make a cash donation, please click here:



Client of the Month

                                                       Miguel Quiroz


Miguel lives on the road between the Pipeline Trail in Bajo Mono and Senderos Los Quetzales at the end of the road. The access to his dwelling is a very steep incline that is eroded and extremely difficult to navigate. He moved to the Boquete area as an adult and has lived rent free in his current home for seven years. This sounds like a good deal until you realize his “home” is a tool shed which is in rough shape. His kitchen is an outdoor cooking area under a plastic tarp; he cooks in a fire pit. Miguel lives in fear that his landlord will kick him out.


He has no family that he knows of. He has no cedula, the Panamanian ID card. Completely illiterate, Miguel is unable to read or write even his name. He never attended school. However, he can read numbers.  


Miguel thinks he is between 70 and 80 years old. He was bornin Bocas del Toro, but doesn't know his birthdate. His parents died before he was school age and a teacher took him in for a time.


He has very little sight in one eye from an injury and a severe cataract in the other.  


When the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Panama (MINSA) opens a surgical suite (maybe April 2024) in the public hospital in David, Miguel will be able to get cataract surgery.


He has received some assistance from the nearby church he attends regularly. The BVB volunteers who deliver food to Miguel have arranged for his pastor to check on Miguel weekly. Additionally, the volunteers have privately helped him get medical care and supplies such as soap and toothpaste. In the months since his first food delivery, he has gained weight and looks much healthier as he has enough to eat and is no longer begging for food.


The Boquete Knitters and Quilters,

An Interview with Brandy Gregory


Not only does Buenos Vecinos de Boquete (BVB) provide food each month, but thanks to the Boquete Knitters and Quilters, we are also able to provide blankets, quilts, sweaters booties, and hats. Each of these items is handmade with love and either crocheted, quilted, or knitted. BVB and the Knitters and Quilters are extremely grateful to the Fundacion Pro-Integracion (Handicap Foundation) for allowing them to use the Foundation’s space. The knitters even get to store their bins of yarn in the backroom at the Foundation.


There are about two dozen women in the group which includes expats, Panamanian Latinas, and Indigenous Panamanians. There is an equal number of knitters and crocheters with quilters making up a smaller contingent. When they get together for their “knitting and knattering”  (chatting) at the Handicap Foundation on Fridays, between 3 – 12 of the group show up. They knit, knatter, and “ooh and ahh” over the group’s creations. After the items are finished, Brandy takes everything home. There, she sorts and bags the items for delivery. She tries to make deliveries once a month.


The group got involved with BVB about seven years ago when they were asked to supply quilts or blankets for the babies of the BVB client families. However, the Knitters and Quilters have been a group for 15 years. They consider themselves “a tiny charitable organization that serves our tiniest and neediest neighbors.”


How they became this tiny charitable organization is quite a story. The short version is Brandy sent out a notice asking other knitters if they wanted to get together to knit and chat and it evolved from there. They knit more than 1600 items each year. Where do they get their yarn, you wonder? They order it from the US from craft shops (for example, JoAnn Fabrics). Yarn here is very expensive and not of the same quality as that from the US.


These1600 items are not just for BVB families, but they also create for the Centrode Salud Beatriz Kant next door to Romero, the clinic in Palmira (Brandy delivers to both of them), the pediatric cancer ward (chemo caps) in David, Nutre Hogar de Chiriqui (the residential treatment facility for severely malnourished infants and children), and the newborn nursery at the Maternal and Infant hospital in David.


They have also donated things to the Rotary Club Manchichi Project which works to train indigenous women in midwifery. When there was catastrophic flooding in Volcan, they were able to provide a pickup truck full of items for the Red Cross to deliver. Brandy says “basically, when we see need in the local area, we will try to meet that need.”


When asked, Brandy said her favorite thing to knit is a blanket because it is mindless which allows her time to chat. One of the group members loves to “crank out sweaters” while another specializes in caps…luckily, between the group members they have several who like to do things others aren’t so crazy about and several members like to make all the various items.  


Brandy has been knitting about 20 years and doesn’t remember how she got started, other than “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” She did not become involved in charity knitting until she moved to Panama.


Brandy was asked why she knits for others. Her response was “My personal reason: When I learned, 15 years ago, that very often the Indigenous mothers brought their newborns in for their first checkups WRAPPED IN NEWSPAPER, I vowed to my God that ‘they may come in wrapped in newspaper, but I'm going to do all that I can to send them home wrapped in something soft and warm and made with love.’  And I believe, down to my toenails, that our gifts have literally saved the lives of some of those babies.  And that this is why God brought me to Panama.”


Volunteers of the Month


  Ashleigh & Don Nardone –

Laid Back and Loving the Lifestyle


Ashleigh and her husband Don decided they needed a change in their lives and moved to Panama. They are gregarious folks who enjoy meeting new people and traveling.  In addition, Ashleigh loves to cook and Don enjoys scuba diving and reading.  They both enjoy traveling. They chose Boquete to live in because of the fresh air, cooler temperatures, and the “tranquilo” (no worries or tranquil) lifestyle.


Originally from Florida, they’ve been in Boquete for 19 months and involved with BVB for about 11 months. They became involved with the organization because “we wanted to make the best of our time here.” In addition, they believe in helping others.


Their roles in BVB have included food packing, photographer, marketing committee, and sitting at the BVB table at the Arco Iris building at the Tuesday Market.  Additionally, Don created the online volunteer questionnaire before he was a member of BVB and created a PowerPoint slide show for the presentation at the Boquete Library.


What they have experienced as volunteers that moved them a great deal is meeting and photographing a “family of the month.” This was heartwarming to Don and Ashleigh because “they welcomed us with a smile and were very grateful for our visit. We really enjoyed seeing the children’s faces as we gave them chocolate bars. Out in the field is when one fully understands the full impact of BVB’s mission.”


Ashleigh and Don are leaving soon to start a new life in the Philippines where Don’s mother is from. BVB is very sad to be losing these wonderful people. They “have made major contributions volunteering with both BVB and the Handicap Foundation.” BVB wishes them the best in their future endeavors.


Buenos Vecinos exists to help people 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.

Donate Here

If you prefer to donate by cash or local check, please visit our table in the Arco Iris building 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/


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