Today our group split up between the Asilo, a nursing home for the elderly in Bocas, and La Solucion. At the Asilo, we took the patients for a walk in the park, talked to them, and just interacted with them in general. Without volunteers from Floating Doctors, the people in the Asilo rarely get to interact with people in Bocas Town. The Asilo is a great example of people taking limited resources and supplementing them with time, interaction, and kind conversations to turn it into something invaluable for the seniors. The Asilo helps many of these disenfranchised people get off the streets.
At noon we came back to the warehouse for lunch and then some of us stayed at La Consultario (medical clinic), while those that went to the Asilo in the morning went to La Solucion. In the afternoon, the project at La Salucion was lifting up the water pipes that bring in clean, potable water from the city, up out of the muck and attaching them to the bottom of the walkway. They encountered a few difficulties with water lines detaching because they were not properly glued, which is a huge health hazard because the swamp water gets into their only clean water source.
The Consultario is where members of the community can come ask Doctor Ben and the other doctors for a consultation on their health problems. The problems are often diarrhea and other stomach problems, which ties back to the problem of clean water. Some volunteers went with Tommy, the master carpenter, and Andrew, the film guy, to the Marina to work on their boat. The Southern Wind is the Floating Doctor’s boat, which has taken them from Honduras to Haiti and back.
After a good days work, some of us went to Riptide, jumping off their boat to cool off in the ocean, and then La Bulga. We all regrouped at the apartments and went to a delicious restaurant called Maracuya (Passionfruit in Spanish!) for Lisa’s 21st birthday. Today was a great balance of hard work and relaxation and fun
Posted by Patty Lu
The adventure began with a small group of eager travelers. We waited during these beginnings: waited for the train to take us into New York, waited to get out of the frigid cold airport, and waited to arrive at Panama. And after hours of travel, we arrived in paradise where we settled into our hotel and cooled off in the pool with some Latin tunes in the background. After an early start (3 am!), our group hopped on a plane to Bocas del Toro, where we were greeted by our sunny volunteer coordinator, Skye; the blue Caribbean sea; and the rooster outside our rooms.
After a much-needed nap, Dr. Ben, the founder of Floating Doctors, shared his vision with us on projects to better the community: like building walkways in La Solución, working with elderly people in El Asilo, and many more. We then met the team of devoted individuals who each shared Dr Ben’s commitment to better public health and access to medical care. And after our team meeting, we celebrated our beginning with hopes of making a positive contribution in the next few weeks.
Post by Carolyn
Trash. A morning in the village of La Solucion definitely taught us to appreciate many of the basic services we take for granted in our everyday lives. Waking up mid-morning and heading out into the beaming sunlight, we “dove” into the waters below this makeshift community to clean up the trash that had been building up for months; we found the work to be both humbling and rewarding.
The casualties of Lucy, Caroline, Carolyn, and almost Patty by falling in the wastewater epitomized the fruitful sacrifices we made to help this struggling community. After a quick lunch of empanadas, served by the nicest and most caring Panamanian boy, we headed back out into La Solucion to tackle a bridge-building project and continue with the garbage clean-up. This time however, our efforts were aided by children of the community (who by the way, were the most adorable and sweet kids ever). The smiles and cuteness of these children definitely alleviated our tired bodies and was definitely one of the major highlights of the day.
BEACH. There is not a better way to rest from a day of hard labor than by heading to a nearby beach in the afternoon. Sweet waves and salty waters felt absolutely amazing. And after a picturesque dinner, where did we go? Back to the beach of course. A warm, loving night with the mellow sound of ocean waves crashing around us was the perfect way to end the night. La solucion? THE BEACH? Panama Spring Break 2013 couldn’t have started off on a better note!
Post by Jiou
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