Breaking Down Barriers

on Monday, January 26, 2009

Venturing to Panama and other areas of the country have been the most beautiful and enriching times in my life. I was able to meet incredible people, see incredible sights and to make a difference in the lives and communities that I have traveled to.

One of the most rewarding experiences, I feel, is the breaking down of stereotypes that can happen while one unexpectedly helps another.

The mountainous jungles of Panama was where I spent 3 weeks of my summer of 2007. I was blessed with the opportunity to help 3 struggling villages of Panama begin to establish a reliable food source. Each of these villages are remote and must travel a hundred miles or so just to find a doctor or if they need certain supplies to get by.

A few selected members of the tribe in the remote area of San Felix, called the Gnobe tribe, would reach these much more developed cities and they would not know how to work certain types of technology or how to relate to this culture that they were not a part of. They are treated like very uncivilized people and are extremely rude and demeaning to this tribe. Its disturbing to see how terribly they are treated in certain situations just because one group thinks they are much better and more "civilized" than another group.

One of the men that I had the pleasure of meeting in La Torre in Panama, Menalco, was very standoffish and extremely wary of white people due to this unfair treatment within the larger cities that they had to visit. La Torre is a completely different world than the city of David or Panama City and I feel as if it is quite unfair to treat someone as if they are in a lower social class than you are. It is like we've stumbled back into the "Medieval nobles and peasants" stage of our ancestors.

Through the volunteer work that our 18-person group, helping these areas with their need for a stable source of food, we were able to break down the barriers that they have justifiably put up towards those that they find more educated and “privileged.” It was a beautiful experience to see them slowly put their guards down while they opened both their homes and their hearts to us.


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