***This post is late. I was working in Panama in the end of November/beginning of December. When I got back to the States, I had training, presentations and prep for other projects, so that delayed me finishing this post. I want to share how our program is going…even though I am sharing it two months later***
I started working in Panama in March of 2014.
Over the years, I have tried different methods to make a drilling program there sustainable.
During the first year, the focus was on the men in the one village we were working in at the time.
In May of 2015, I trained Candido, Nazario & Simon, specifically to be a drilling team. We drilled a few wells together, but Nazario lived too far away to make it realistic for him to stick with and Candido moved on to a different area.
By 2016, I was focusing just on Simon – to train him on drilling, pump building, hygiene education and documenting of projects. He was the right pick!
Since then, I have spent many months in Panama working alongside of Simon, teaching, encouraging and helping him with his “planning” skills : )
Typically, I would work with Simon for about 2-3 months, in Panama, and then I would leave for 5-6 months to work in different countries. While I was gone, Simon continued the drilling program, but rarely got as many done as we’d plan. We tried different methods, schedules and plans over the years and it wasn’t as successful – until now! During my last 6-month absence, Simon drilled 20 wells! 20 wells! Simon has never drilled that many on his own in one stretch of time! Simon is also getting more confident and was extremely proud to show me all that was accomplished. I am so excited to report that our program in Panama is going strong now! I am praising God for providing wells to these Ngobe communities and praying that the message of Christ’s love continues to spread to the people that Simon serves.
To see an interactive version of this map, click here.
It will never be “easy” to work in Panama. Simon works hard to drill wells in many different villages – even the locations where he doesn’t get much support. It is challenging to work in some of the Ngobe villages and although Simon is a Ngobe himself, he is not always treated with kindness. Simon wants to help people – he wants to help them to access water and he wants to share that Jesus loves them. One of our rules is that recipients of the well have to help with the drilling process. Simon is sometimes met with grumbling because people want to have the well without helping to drill it themselves. Simon is so patient, but also firm. He will not give in and drill the well by himself, but he will give the community second and third chances. I am so thankful for Simon and his heart to help others no matter the conditions. Without Simon, we would not have a successful program in Panama!