My current projects

One main project is the importation of 200 refurbished computers into Panama. There are at least two non-profit organizations in the U.S. that accept donations and then ship to sites in the US and abroad. Both have worked with the Peace Corps before. Nephew Nic in fact worked with some of the computers one of the organizations sent to el Salvador. There are three of us working on the project together with our sector director. I investigated the organizations and wrote the proposal, which eventually became a one page proposal to several potential funders after the sector director worked it over. He did a very good job on his end.

Then another volunteer, who is an experienced fund raiser, will work on the proposal in greater detail and she and I will hash is out and present it to the sector director. A third volunteer will arrange whatever training we are going to provide to end users. This is a $25,000-30,000 project.

Here’s a bit of the proposal, which is still being developed:

“While rural Panamanians have increasing access to cellular technology, poverty greatly limits their access to computers. The Peace Corps proposes to help reduce the disparity between those who can take advantage of the benefits of the information age and those who cannot, by providing computers and training to the economically disadvantaged in third world countries.

While the Panamanian government has made scattered efforts to help youth enter the information age by providing computers and even satellite internet access in some schools, they do not support community groups. These are very important organizations in Panama, recognized by the national government and international organizations that fund projects in Panama.

Peace Corps has supported its declared computer initiative by importing computers to Latin American countries such as Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as many other nations. Now, Peace Corps volunteers living in the most under-served small communities in Panama have the opportunity to do the same, by providing refurbished computers to groups in up to 200 communities, with beneficiaries numbering into the thousands. As important as providing computers, Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV’s) will train recipients in computer use.

Given the rapid progress of wireless technology in Panama, members of these groups may be able to afford access to the services the internet has made available. An additional important benefit will be overcoming the extremely limited postal service in Panama. Communicating via email will replace long bus trips and hand-delivery of paperwork.”

This wording may not end up in the final proposal but it gives you one view of the project. Peg greatly assisted in writing the proposal. We are on draft 6.

My second major project is helping Adata develop a web page. Adata is the network of environmental groups in the Tierras Altas of Chiriqui, Panama. You can see the pages now but the site is not nearly complete. It is in English and Spanish. The goal is to educate English and Spanish speaking public and funding agencies about the highly sensitive and important ecological zone.

ADATA as well as this site are published using WordPress. I had to learn how to use this program, which was difficult. I am working with a local on the ADATA site, so the project can sustain itself.

My third major project is a two weekend training program for area environmental groups. I plan to see funding from the Panamanian government. I am working with a local group to plan the program.

Side projects are working on agro-eco tourism in our host community, helping get the computers running for the school, attending meetings of our local agro-environmental group hoping to find a way to help them organizationally and I will be doing medical translations in mid-April. There will be more such projects as time goes on.

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