Buenos Vecinos de Boquete

I received an invitation to join Trish and Brian Christofferson on their monthly round to deliver food assistance to some of the needy in the Potrerillos area. This activity is funded and sponsored by Buenos Vecinos de Boquete. Funding comes from concerned individuals like CC’s readership and Bid for Boquete.

I arrive at their house at 8:30 with camera in hand and batteries charged (mine and the camera’s).

There are certain activities that I like better than others and people helping people ranks at the top of my like list.

Four of us headed out Friday morning, Trish, Brian, myself and Nino, who is a Panamanian neighbor that insures that no communication gets lost with the clients. While Trish and Brian’s Spanish is better than mine, it is always good to be armed with one fluent in local culture and idiom.

We went in Brian’s 4×4. The families that are receiving these food donations live in areas that some sedans would never be able to go.

As a side note, I am sure you know that clicking on any photo will enlarge it.

DSC00704First on our route was Maximino. He is a 55-year-old single man that suffered head trauma in 1979.  He is unable to work and takes medication to moderate his behavior.

He has a sister that  lives nearby that cooks for him but she doesn’t have the resources to buy his food herself.

The photo was his distribution for the month.

DSC00705Back on the road again for Valentino. This is an indigenous family with the mother, father and 4 sons ranging in ages 2ys-9yrs.  The father is a day laborer that earns $8 a day when he can find work.  This can be sporadic.  The second to the youngest son has juvenile arthritis.  He is in pain often and has to take medication.


DSC00706DSC00707At the time we went by, the mom was away at the clinic with the second youngest son. The young ones, in the photo, were taking care of each other until she returned.

Nino got their ages, while we were there because, Trish and Brian were going to pick up school supplies that would be needed. This is not part of BVB, which only provides only provides food staples, but another need that the Christoffersons were going to fill.

DSC00708As you can see from the photos, most of the rural families have their own egg production factory. That takes me back to my time on the farm, because one of my jobs as a child, the age of these kiddos, was to gather the eggs.

DSC00711Back on the road again. You will notice that traffic had picked up. I checked to see how well Waze knew this area and from the photo, you can see that incase of emergency, I could find my way home.


Our next stop was Octavio.  For some reason, the photos I took there didn’t turn out. Octavio is a single, elderly man.  No one is sure what the cause of his mental illness is.  Apparently he was productive and normal when he was younger.  He is over 70 and is seen walking throughout Potrerillos, usually talking to himself.  His niece lives next door to him and cooks for him but she is unable to buy his food.

DSC00715DSC00717Our next deliver was for Aida. She is a single grandmother in her late 60s.  Her daughter died three years ago and Aida is raising her daughter’s children, a boy 8 and a girl 11.  In addition to the two grandchildren she is raising, Aida cares for numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  As Aida says she has “bastante ninos” at her house.

DSC00718DSC00719She receives no assistance with the grandchildren she is raising.  Because she is under 70 she doesn’t receive the government allotment for the elderly.

One of the things that was delivered to Aida was a new stove to replace the one you see that has wire holding it together. DSC00720Most of the clients use wood as fuel to cook with. The stove that was delivered is designed to produce maximum heat with minimum smoke. Many children that live around wood fired kitchens take in too many toxins and that can cause future health problems.

DSC00722DSC00723Aida gave Brian her prized gift of a tomato which was almost as large as she was. What a sweet family.



DSC00724Next on our route was Maria. She was also to be the recipient of a new stove.

DSC00726Maria is a single woman in her late 60s.  She was one of our first clients in Potrerillos.  She was bedridden and suffering from malnutrition when we met her.  She lives with her daughter and three grandchildren.  Maria has no means of support and has flourished with the monthly food subsidy from BVB.

I included a couple photos of her smaller egg factory and kitchen area, which had an active fire burning.


DSC00730Last on our round for today was Rosa.  Rosa is a single, elderly woman.  She lives with her daughter and granddaughter.  She has had breast cancer and has other serious medical conditions. Her daughter is unable to work because she has to care for her mother.

The stated target group, for BVB, is the elderly and handicapped.  As you can see all of these clients fall into one or the other category.

Following is some contact information if you want to get involved and support BVB,

Louise Orr is Buenos Vecinos de Boquete’s contact person.  Her email is: panamaleo@gmail.com   Phone number:  6670-3678

BVB’s website is:  http://www.buenosvecinosdeboquete.com.pa/

BVB’s Facebook page is:  Buenos Vecinos de Boquete

Don’t worry if you are outside Panama and want to help. BVD has a PayPal account and you can deposit from anywhere, if you have an Internet connection.

In closing, let me say I had a great time. If you could have seen the expressions on the faces of the people receiving the donations, you would get a feeling of very how important this is to each of them.

Not only that, but you also felt the acceptance of being a part of their family. They would share anything they had with you if the could as Aida did with her prized tomato. Every single family asked how Trish was since she didn’t leave the car.

They all knew she had taken a spill and fractured a knee cap and each family showed their concern. Several walked to the car to wish her well and say thanks for their delivery.

My thanks go out to Trish and Brian for allowing me to be a part of their morning. It filled me with appreciation that there are people like them and organizations like BVB. A second thank you to Trish who helped me with notes on each client.

By the way, if you choose to make a donation, tell them you learned about them on Chiriquí Chatter.

11 thoughts on “Buenos Vecinos de Boquete

  1. Great story about a great need in our community. Thanks Don for helping shed the light on the hungry people of our area.

  2. Hi Totsie. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. There is plenty of need and it is often so overwhelming that people don’t get involved, because they think they can never make a difference.

    It is like the little girl that was walking along the beach and as she would see a starfish stranded on the beach, she would pick it up and put it back in the water.

    An elderly fellow watched her and seeing so many starfishes, he asked the little girl why she continued because she could never make a difference because she could never save all the starfish on the beach.

    She looked up at him, and with more wisdom than her age, she said, ” Yes, but it will make a difference to those that I do save.”

    Have a great day.

  3. What a tremendous blessing! These stories brought a smile to our faces and a tear to our eyes. We can’t wait to be a part of this after we get “home” to Panama in late 2013. We will happily be a part of this!

  4. Brian and I enjoyed having you join us for the food delivery! You had some great stories yourself about what you and Tom McCormick are doing to provide needed services to the community as well. Thank you for the awesome post!!!

  5. What great photos and stories about some of the BVB clients. They are beautiful people who are sincerely grateful for the help they receive each month. Brian and Trish have forged wonderful relationships with their clients and are warmly received on every delivery day. I’ve witnessed another food delivery BVB member, Gail Cody, and the way her people light up when they see her. Lots of hugs and smiles. These encounters are very heartfelt.

    Hopefully, your readers will be moved to contribute to Buenos Vecinos de Boquete by PayPal. Those dollars go a long way because BVB is able to buy food wholesale and provide much more than individuals could purchase retail at the grocery store. For less than the cost of a daily latte, someone could sponsor an individual or family for a whole year!

    Don, thanks for your interest and for your time. This is truly a worthy cause.

  6. I heard a variation of the starfish story when I was in the Peace Corps. It starts the same, but when the old man asks the girl what difference she can make she picks up a starfish, throws it in the water, and says, “It made a difference to that one.”

    So yeah, you are making a difference in people’s lives. Whether it’s 1000 or 100 or even 1.

    That’s pretty cool.

    Andy (Trish’s and Brian’s son)

  7. Trish and Brian are wonderful people and do wonderful things. Thanks for the excellent blog. Trish explained the program to a friend and I on a visit, but the pictures really bring it to life – the program is good going both ways with good feelings for everyone.

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