To leave a place better than when you arrived. For most travelers, the goal is to enjoy stress free vacations. Most of them look for an adventure, something new, with content. Panama is the place where they can find all these things, as it hasn´t developed fully its tourism industry.
In Casco Viejo, Panama´s colocial city, they´ll find content around each corner. There is excitement over its revitalization, the vibrant mixed community that is organically growing. But there is also something more; there is a community fighting to break the cycle of poverty, and travelers can help out.
Fundación Calicanto and Aprojusan (Asociación Pro Juventud de San Felipe) are two NGO´s devoted to this goal. Aprojusan deals mostly with children, providing art workshops as the honey to atract them, but in reality they end up participating in a complementary afterschool program that includes medical check ups, lunch, close following ups with each subject and their teachers at school. But most of all, they are offered a safe place, where they are respected and cared for. The program just got their new headquarters, a space donated by Conservatorio S.A. at the heart of the historic district. For the next two years, Aprojusan´s goals will include fundraising to build their own headquarters within the historic district.
Fundación Calicanto might be one of the oldest NGO´s working in the area. They support all activities from Aprojusan and run programs like CAPTA, which is hotel trainning for local women. Focusing on mothers and their children is the only proven way to break the cycle of poverty effectively, forever. Women from CAPTA attend to a two month intense trainning that includes not only technical trainning but also self esteem and even household administration. 80% of the women in this course end up with a steady job. From living on less than 5$ a day, now graduates have not only means to raise their family properly but they can think about their own education. In less than two years, goal have changed from survival to study English. Next year, they´ll be able to apply to credit to buy their own home.
When visiting Casco Viejo think about this. It is the axis of a mixed community that lives in harmony. Your trip can help sustain these programs with simple donations. Consider this: sending a woman to a hotel trainning course and changing forever the life of her family (probably includes 5 to 6 members) takes only $300 a year. Every contribution is able to build a better future for the entire area. When talking about investments and multiplying effects, most news today focus on pesimistic information. It is good to know beforehand your vacations in Panama can have such a positive impact with so little.