Despite our modern travel methods, where we can cross the world in less than a day, many locations remain secluded from us. Panama is the southernmost country in Central America, found on the isthmus connecting North and South America.
“My church every year goes to a different Latin-speaking country and this year we went to Panama,” Senior Juliana Verhage said.
Every year Verhage’s church goes on a trip to a Latin-speaking country in order to help the community they go to.
“We go and help out people in need and try to give back because we’ve been given so much here in the United States. We want to help people out who haven’t been given as much as we have”.
There are many parts of Panama that don’t have the luxuries and even necessities that we have here.
“This year we had some people who helped with renovations on a church, and put up a fence and took down trees that had overgrown on to the church”.
However, Verhage’s church did more than restoring the church but helped the community in other ways.
“Another couple groups renovated a school by clearing a burnt down pineapple orchard, and replanting it with orange trees. Another group had also redone a playground at the school that had been totally wrecked, as well as repainting over the graffiti that covers the walls of the school and made it look much nicer”.
While some areas of panama such as the one that they renovated are near third world conditions, other areas of Panama remain largely untouched by modern technology. Some of its people still live in secluded tribal settings.
“We went to Panama City and took a two hour canoe ride to an indigenous tribe in the jungle. We lived with them for about 24 hours during the weekend”.
Living with an indigenous tribe is very different from how most people live today.
“It was a very eye-opening experience because they have no electricity whatsoever. All the men only wore loin clothes and the women didn’t wear shirts”.
Tribal people face different experiences from modern people, and as such they have a generally different outlook.
“They’re more down to earth and they have nothing, but I don’t think they mind. They really only have their clothes on their back and what they need for cooking”.
Panama has a very different culture from ours, especially when it comes to indigenous tribes.
“They live such happy simple lives. They make music, they cook and they’re more about culture and relationships than they are about trying to find things to do. I like that”.
Verhage and her church are looking forward to their trip to Ecuador next year and will fill their time in between by helping in more local areas such as Los Angeles.