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.
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.
Back 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.
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.
As 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.
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.
Our 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.
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. Most 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.
Maria 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.
Last 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: email@example.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.