Mud + trees + children = a lot of fun. That´s what Saturday was for Casco Antiguo´s community, as their neighborhood association (AVACA) celebrated the International Environment Day. Together, they planted seven palms at the historic city and took the opportunity to teach kids about the environment while doing something fun.
The event, while it might have sounded simple and almost silly, was done in collaboration between ngo´s who work only at Panama´s historic district and it was an important educational moment for the children of the neighborhood which is often counted as one of the poorest in the country.
Since it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1998, Casco Viejo has been gainning momentum. Its revitalization has recovered several buildings, but also the community has been experiencing change from every angle. NGO´s that are active have been funded almost completely by private companies and the new residents, which tend to have a commitment towards social responsability and have worked to open opportunities for locals by providing them with personal and professional education that could allow them to join the rise of the Casco.
Some of the most sucessful ones have targeted women and children. Even though the process has been quite organic, results are encouraging. One of the programs run by Fundación Calicanto has had 90% success in placing women under their hotel trainning program. Over 120 women have now stable jobs and families thanks to CAPTA. On the other side of the spectrum, APROJUSAN provides children with an afterschool program that has a basic but crucial goal: get them graduated from school. They follow up successfully more than 30 children and their families, providing them with everything for their studies including health checkups, meals and a psychologist.
These where the kids enjoying Saturday´s green event. For them, it was an unforgettable experience. For the neighborhood, a milestone into a better community.