Boy oh boy, did I get beat up for the previous post on charities. I must be a little masochistic or I would not post anything that might provoke thought or discussion. The post obviously struck a nerve with several people and I seem to have ruffled more than a few feathers. I received hate mail, was called names, and some mail bordered on threats. WOW. What a reaction.
Still, I think anything that encourages discussion is probably a good thing. I am thick skinned and can take it if I dish it out.
It is my opinion that people moving to Panama from a foreign country, and are planning on living in Panama, need to assimilate into the community. To me, that means making an effort to learn the language, understand the culture, and trying to give back to the community.
I also realize that the older we get, each of these things become more difficult. Not all of us can do as much as others.
Let me address some things from the previous post in the order I consider most important.
My primary motive in writing the post was to make people aware that there are charity organizations outside of Boquete that need support. B4B gets so much press, that it is easy to forget about other needs or not even be aware they exist.
Certainly my post was not intended to disparage B4B or Boquete Hospice. I have supported them both in the past and will continue to do so. Yes, I do question administrative decisions of both, if I don’t think they make sense.
Let me address the request for a hospital bed that I made in behalf of a U.S. veteran. I realize that organizations have to establish rules in order to operate. I have managed organizations of thousands of people and I know that sometimes rules need to be bent. “Rules were made to be broken” was not originated by me.
I will also plead guilty to getting emotionally involved in the Embassy cases I have been involved with. At the time I requested the bed, I was absolutely convinced the individual would die without a hospital bed and proper care. He had no friends in David. He had no family in the U.S. that could come to Panama or assist him in any way. For several weeks it took 100% of my time getting past the hurdles.
Prior to calling Boquete Hospice, I had contacted Tom McCormack and he told me all of his beds were currently out and he would have more coming in in a couple months. It was only then that I contacted Boquete Hospice, knowing that my need was short term.
Luckily, a week or so after getting turned down by Boquete Hospice, Tom called me and said a bed had freed up and did I still need it.
The bed was used for a couple of months until I was able to get the individual moved into Hogar Santa Catalina. At that time I returned the bed to Tom because the Hogar had their own hospital beds (some probably provided by Tom).
However, let me make this perfectly clear. The one Boquete organization that I am aware of, that helps people outside Boquete, is the Boquete Hospice. If I am not wrong, I think they have recently provided training in hospice care in David. They also maintain a blood donors list and have always provided blood when asked. Unfortunately, the Panama donor regulations at each hospital are unique and often restrict donors over a certain age or because of the date they last entered Panama.
My post was not intended to disparage anyone. However, I did hope it would encourage those in decision making positions to reevaluate how decisions are made.
My past post was primarily intended to make people aware that there are worthy causes outside of Boquete and they should be considered when making donation decisions.
If you live in David, it is good to learn your area needs and support them.
If you live in Bugaba, it is good to know your area needs and support them.
If you live in Volcan, it is good to know your area needs and support them.
As a result of the post, several raised the question of why don’t you set up your own organizations if you think they are needed.
There are already plenty of organizations and I don’t know that more organizations are going to make a difference. Awareness of existing needs and organizations will make a difference. B4B does an outstanding job of getting their organization needs known.
Maybe B4B might consider having a section on their website which tells people about other Chiriquí organizations that are outside B4B’s ability to support. I am sure their website gets plenty of hits. and all by people wanting to make a difference. Awareness is the key. How about it B4B?
Any organization can only do so much. I believe the foundation of any community is built on the individuals in that community. It is up to individuals to care and be involved in helping others in need. If individuals are apathetic, nothing good happens.
Let me say one last thing. B4B has their largest event of the year coming up. Anyone that buys anything in the auction, should not think that they just bought a vacation, or a chair, or a printer or a painting. What they should think is that they just helped a child have a meal or they just a helped crippled child get therapy, etc. Think of it in context of people and not in the context of things acquired.
Now moving on to another subject.
I mentioned that people coming here need to understand the customs and practices in Panama.
Last Saturday, I was at El Rey at the pharmacy and I watched a group of 4 gringas pass through the grocery checkout. One after another they paid for their items as they talked between themselves, paying little attention to the cashier or bag boy, The bag boy placed all of their purchases in a bags as they went by. Each proceeded to take their bags never saying anything to the cashier and not saying “thank you” to the bag boy. None gave the bag boy a tip.
In Panama, the bag boys only work for tips. Neither PriceSmart nor the supermarkets pay these young men. Since that is not the case in the U.S., it is easy for newcomers to Panama to not be aware of this and to think nothing of ignoring them.
If I have a large amount of items carried to the car, I make sure to tip a dollar. If I decide to carry a small bag or two myself, I try to give a minimum of a quarter and maybe more depending on what I spent.
Another topic related to tips is for restaurants. In Panama, the standard tip for good service is 10%. More and more restaurants are posting that the suggested tip is 10% on their menus. Also you need to be aware that some restaurants include the tip in the bill. It pays to look at the bill and see if propina (tip) is listed. I realize that this is probably less than is the normal tip in the U.S., but I have had Panamanians criticize gringos tipping extravagant amounts saying they were showing off.
Well that is it for today. Bring on the slings and arrows.