While I was waiting to get a haircut, by wee bonnie Yanie, I walked next door to get some information from Casa Esperanza. A good friend in Panama City had told me about this organization and what a good job they do helping children.
I picked up a brochure and most of what I am going to publish here comes directly from that brochure. Some of the information I learned today is really incredible, and if you are looking for a worthy cause to support, here is another to consider.
What is Casa Esperanza and what programs do they provide?
Integral Services Centers
Seven (7) centers are implemented in Panama, Colon, Coclé and Chiriquí; multidisciplinary teams provide children and teenagers with academic support, primary healthcare, nutrition, personal and social development, sports, culture and recreational activities.
Child laborers working in the informal sector or in agricultural zones are contracted in their communities or at their work site, and are then referred to the Casa Esperanza Center where they are educational alternatives aimed at reducing their participation in the work force.
Accelerated Elementary School Educational
A total of seven “One room Schools” are implemented in Veraguas (1), Cocle (1) and the Ngobe Bugle Indigenous Region (4). Children who are not enrolled in the formal education system are identified and motivated to continue their education.
Community Education Attention Centers
Forty (40) small centers are implemented in the indigenous and rural communities of Veraguas, Herrera, Los Santos, Coclé and Ngobe Bugle. Beneficiaries: 1000 children and teenagers.
Our growth and development opportunities to children and teenagers in extreme poverty conditions, especially to those who must work to contribute to their family incomes. Health, nutrition, education and administrative staff, highly committed to the human rights of children. Our programs and services are sustainable through awareness campaigns and fund raising activities, which evidence the support of the community.
Where are we Located?
In Panama, Colon, Coclé, Herrera, Los Santos, Veraguas, Chiriquí and the Ngobe Bugle Indigenous Regions.
3,550 children and teenagers
Here are some specifics on the programs of Casa Esperanza:
Integral Educational Centers in Farms Programs
This program targets children and teenagers who migrate with their parents during the coffee harvest season. Youngsters participate in enjoyable educational and recreational activities, while simultaneously being removed from agricultural labor.
This program is implemented in 14 farms, 12 in Chiriquí, 1in Veraguas and 1 in Herrera. Beneficiaries: 700 children and teenagers who migrate from their communities and lodge with their families in migrant camps in order to labor under rigorous agricultural conditions.
Family Counseling Program
Parents of the beneficiaries have the opportunity of participating in this program, where they receive counseling, job skills training, and who are also taught how to access public services. This program promotes income generation projects and technical training to improve the quality of the life of the family.
Children’s Rights Awareness Raising with Emphasis in Education and Health
This program offers training to different sectors of society on the risks involved in child labor. It is aimed at agricultural producers, local and traditional authorities, government officials, Non Governmental Organizations and teachers, as well as the Communities for the Defense of Children Rights created in 40 communities in the Ngobe Bugle Indigenous Region.
The statistics in the following area are incredible. Read this section slowly.
Child Labor in Panama
More than 47,000 children and teenagers are engaged in child labor; 26% of the child laborers are below the age of fourteen, which is the minimum legal age permitted by Panamanian Law.
More than 32,000 minors are working in the agricultural areas and 65% do not go to school.
More than 21,000 children and teenagers work in the urban areas and 45% are not enrolled in the school system.
I didn’t take any photos inside the facility, but it was much larger than I had assumed, from seeing the outside. It had several classroom areas. It had an eating area where they provide the daily meals. There was one room with several PCs that were connected to the Internet. There was a large area in the back that was full of childing watching some presentation on TV, during a party, that was being held for them by one of the local banks.
For more information, you can visit their website. www.casaesperanza.org.pa