Each time we bump and wind our way up and down the mountain, we pass a Panamanian Public School called E.B.G. Juan E. Jimenez. There is no ability to speed as a rough tight hairpin curve just at the entrance to the school keeps things under control. We have never had the chance to see this school close up until today when a charity, called “Maria Luisa de Moreno Fundacion Internacional” will have a team there to give some of the less fortunate kids a small package of school supplies.
The Maria Luisa de Moreno Fundacion Internacional is a Colombia based non-profit organization formed in 2000 by Doctor María Luisa Piraquive. The Fundacion is currently present in 16 countries with three strategic lines focused on education, social welfare and productivity.
We got to attend because the National Police asked our local “Vecinos Vigilantes” (Neighbourhood Watch) group to attend. We were asked to bring something for the kids. Cup-cakes, which are becoming our defacto standard offering, were approved by the organizers as long as they had no icing. I guess they didn’t want to have to clean up the kids after they ate their cup-cakes.
In Panama, these kind of events are strongly supported by the National Police. They use opportunities like this to turn out and help, support, and speak encouraging words to the kids reminding them to call on police for help and stay away from drugs. This is the same community involvement approach we see with the police at home. It has proven quite successful.
I admit to being somewhat confused about who was and was not selected to attend the function. While some kids were brought in from other locations, some were from the E.B.G. Juan E. Jimenez School. There were also classes not participating in the event. From time to time, you would catch a small curious student looking out the door of their classroom, to see what they were missing.
I caught a class getting ready to head out to the garden area. They were drawing tools from a storage locker which they used during a class in the field. Here, as it is a rural area, the kids learn how to plant and grow food. The beautiful blooming flowers around the school buildings are a complement to their abilities. I was told that each class had their own area of the garden to plant and keep up.
This was a fascinating event for me to cover, howbeit much too long for the age of the kids attending. Too many lengthy speeches by too many people! The kids showed expected signs of restlessness toward the end of the several hour program. Some were paying close attention, while others seemed distracted by most anything. I must say that North American kids would be hard pressed to behave that well for that length of time.
The payoff, which came at the end of the speeches, was the handing out of the school supplies, which came with a sucker and a cup cake! I now completely understand why we had been requested not to put icing on the cup-cakes.