One of the greatest benefits of working in Panama is getting to know the people that share our love for this spectacular corner of the world (view a map of the area near Isla Palenque here). We believe in sustainability, and that includes not only protecting the environment but sustaining and supporting the people that call the area home, including community initiatives in the nearby village. This month we have the honor of supporting an important local project called Orgullo en Boca Chica (Pride in Boca Chica).
Our first of several installment on the project is below, and features its leader Donna Skinner. Throughout the month of October we will feature this project on our blog and social media accounts, so stay tuned as the story develops!
Orgullo en Boca Chica
On the Chiriqui coast, nestled among swaying palms, is the small fishing village of Boca Chica. It is a place as unpretentious as it is staggeringly beautiful; a paradise that few visitors to Panama even know exists. Although it is located only an hour’s drive from David, the driving directions still include descriptions like “take the unmarked road on right” and “when the road forks, choose the paved option.” This kind of old world simplicity is incredibly charming.
One of the first American expats to discover this quaint corner of paradise was Donna Skinner of the Gone Fishing Panama Resort. Visitors to Gone Fishing rave not only about the obvious – giant yellow fin tuna, dorado and marlin – but about the personal service and authentic meals received at the family owned resort. However Donna’s relationship with Boca Chica goes far beyond hospitality. She is a community leader focused on improving the local infrastructure and quality of life for Boca Chica’s 250 native residents.
Formerly a private school teacher in the U.S., Donna couldn’t help but put her knowledge and experience toward reviving the struggling local elementary school. She jumped right in teaching English class, while at the same time acquiring volunteers to donate food, text books, art supplies and computers. In 2009 a sanitary kitchen was built and the schoolhouse was repainted inside and out. New locks, windows and air-conditioning were installed, as well as a copy machine, play ground equipment and child-sized desks. Her ongoing efforts have increased attendance and community involvement with the school. This year the 44 children ranging from kindergarten through sixth grade will receive a second teacher while three elementary graduates are receiving the financial support needed to travel to the nearest middle school a few towns away.
With the elementary school flourishing, Donna is expanding her efforts into the bigger spectrum of Boca Chica. Check back next week to learn how the need for the Boca Chica Pride project came about, and how you can help with the big event on October 23, 2010.