Yesterday, we took a trip that we probably should not have taken in our two-wheel drive Toyota Rav4. We went partway down the mountain to a small lake called Goofy Lake and turned left into a small housing community called Buena Vista. Many of the families living here work for Melo, a large chicken producer in the area. Melo provides their chicken farm workers with houses, however this man works in the incubating department so is not entitled to a house.
Until recently, we would have needed to hike in from the road to Panama City, but a new road is under construction by the government. It is not finished yet, but the packed gravel surface is currently passable and a huge improvement over its predecessor, a steep red clay dirt track that would become like a shiny skating rink after a good rain.
Why are we here? Well, our story goes back to Christmas time when the expat community in Los Altos de Cerro Azul give money to provide food baskets to some needy families. This year, as there was some money left over, it was decided to find another family that was in need and give them a food gift.
In need indeed… This family of five have a fourteen year old son, Hector, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy and is bed ridden. The family cares for Hector as best they can. One of the difficulties they have is when Hector has a seizure and needs to go the hospital, people from the community must carry him out to the road to Panama City, as the ambulance cannot get to his house, due to the poor roads.
The landscape in this area is incredibly beautiful and in stark contrast to the poor living conditions of most of the residents. Bananas are growing everywhere. These are the working poor of Panama who are laborers employed at the lowest of wages. Even so, when we visited Hector and his family, everyone was dressed in their best, proudly showing us some of the coloring projects by the young girls and the small chicken house where a dozen or so chickens were contentedly pecking at the ground. It was satisfying to be able to contribute, in a small way, to the needs of this family.
Oh, and the new government road will greatly improve access to the community for ambulances assisting Hector from time to time.