Going to Panama without an agenda, just to volunteer and give back, was one of the best experiences of my life. I experienced everything I wanted and more. The first day we went we met the coolest taxi driver that took us around Panama City, and got the opportunity to visit Hogar Divino Niño. Hogar Divino Niño is an orphanage for children ages 0-3. I’ve never been to a toddler orphanage before. It was interesting to see to how devoted the ladies were to this infants. Admission in the orphanage was quit interesting you have to wait to chat with the director and then you’ll get a tour of the premise. However, if you have donations you can just go drop it off and the “nannies” will take care of them. They are very in need of the following:
- Baby Food
- Powder mild
- Canned foods
That night we took an overnight bus to Almirante, and from Almirante we took a boat to Bocas town. After arriving to Bocas Town aka Isla Colon, we took another boat to go to Bastimentos Island which was were we stayed. Bastimentos island was very primitive, with a population of 1,954 people to be exact. The locals were known as Ngöbe and Buglé, and they spoke their own language known as Guari-Guari, which is a combination of English, Spanish, and local indigenous languages. I thought Bastimentos Island was going to be more touristy, but I’m glad it wasn’t because this gave the opportunity to get very submerge with the culture and learn about Ngöbe and Buglé. I felt like I was in an episode of Naked and Afraid but with clothes. Little did I know I found out that they filmed of Naked and Afraid there. There isn’t streets in Bastimentos just a long side walk and lots of jungle, and muddy trails. The hike to Wizards Beach is quite the experience you have to go barefoot, yes in the mud and slime. I fell twice, it was AWESOME! I thought I was pretty adventurous until I went to that trail. It was very sad to see the conditions people live in Bastimentos Island, they are relatively poor and the drug trade is pretty prevalent. Young kids are hustling trying to sell you drugs 24/7. Its pretty overwhelming but you have to shot them down strategically because otherwise they will get a tad bit aggressive.
We took an unbelievable tour with Total Adventures and we went to Cayo Zapatillas, Dolphin Bay, Hollywood Island, Cayo Coral, and Sloths Mangroves. On the tour we met people from London, Spain, China, and Holland. Being in a tour which such a diverse group was very cultural enriching. We definitely made really good friends abroad.
My favorite part of the trip was being able to volunteer with Give and Surf. Give & Surf aims to provide substantive, hands-on, real world assistance and programs to a hundred and thirty children ages three to sixteen. Give & Surf has constructed and developed two schools in Bahia Honda and Bahia Roja that provide the following: a daily preschool and kindergarten, summer school, surf outreach mentorship program, after school program, Adult and Elementary School english programs, music program, and community involvement initiatives. Please read more about their non-profit: http://giveandsurf.org/
Volunteering with Give and Surf was incredible. Drew, Volunteer Director, will pick you up at 8am at the Bastimentos Island port, and will take you to Bahia Honda school. Upon arrival we will sing songs with the kids, do activities, and read to them. My favorite part of volunteering was teaching the kids how to swim. They were so stoked on life it was incredible. I will recommend volunteering abroad to everyone. Its life changing. You get to interact with the local community, help them out, and be part of they day-to-day life.
Stay tuned to my next adventure. Email me if you want to be a part of my adventures and volunteering trips.