Panama Visit, 2013
In August 2013, Bill and Becky Costas traveled to Panama by invitation of the Minister of Education. While there, they visited schools that have received C.H.O.W.’s donations of desks and school supplies. It was gratifying to see those desks that were so painstakingly gathered from Trumbull County schools being used in Panamanian schools so far from here, as well as to see how grateful the teachers and students were to have them. The children at La Escuela Aguacatón welcomed the visiting entourage warmly and were very eager to show them around the school. The students were preparing for a district science fair and proudly practiced their presentations for the visitors, who were impressed with the experiments, as well as the results and documentation.
Bill and Becky also visited schools that were anticipating receipt of the donations C.H.O.W. sent in August. Primer Ciclo de Espinal is a school of 200 students that also has dorms for the children who live too far away from the school to commute each day. In the boys’ dorm there were ten sets of metal framed bunk beds with very thin, worn mattresses. Some beds had sheets, but others did not. The girls were making the best of the same shortages in their dorm room. C.H.O.W. would like to help meet the children’s needs by collecting 40 sets of new or like-new sheets, one set for each child.
Other schools Bill and Becky visited had desks that were in very bad shape, splintered and very worn. At one school in particular, Kilometre 24, because their numbers are low, they do not receive materials from the Ministry of Education, but the teachers are passionate about serving the students, who they believe are intelligent and could really succeed if they had more materials. One teacher requested English materials, such as books, posters and games, to help him teach “authentic” English.
In addition to needing academic supplies, children in the schools would also benefit from recreational equipment. At most of the schools Bill and Becky visited, the children played soccer during recess. There was often only one ball for the whole school. So far, C.H.O.W. has collected 33 soccer balls to send to these schools. This will be an ongoing collection of new and like-new balls because most of the schools to whom C.H.O.W. sends desks and school supplies are in countries where soccer is a popular sport.