As often as we talk about how diverse different cultures can be, ultimately we’re all really the same people deep inside. We have the same desires, the same fears, and the same goals, no matter what our background. For example, consider the role of alcohol in various cultures (naturally). How many cultures are reputable drinkers? Russians (vodka); Germans (lager); Irish (whiskey); Italy/France (wine); Americans (whatever gets the job done). What separates a culture from another is not the desire to drink, but merely the overall drink of choice. The same goes for Panama. The big picture is the same, but the details vary.
Just turn on the television in Panama for validation of this concept. Channel +23 rotates through a diverse selection of music videos, from American 80s hits, to Panamanian pop stars. While the native pop stars may sing in Spanish and employ a bit more use of maracas and bongos than usual, the archetype remains the same. Whether its Duran Duran or Makano, they still sing about loss and love, and to a catchy beat.
But when we think of the indigenous peoples, its easy to think that their lives are so hard, or difficult. If only we could help them make their lifestyle a little easier, like ours, they would be happier. But the truth is, these people already are happy. Sure, they have problems and challenges, but their day to day lives are that of joy and friendship. Just because their lifestyle is different, doesn’t mean it is wrong.
One father expressed the wish that his child could walk, so as to greet him at the door for a hug after a long day’s work. To me, this is really what we’re trying to facilitate with this project. We’re not trying fix peoples lives, so much as we are trying to help them meet their own goals. Like anyone, these are people who are devoted to love and family. And that devotion will trump whatever challenges get in their way. Sure, a family’s child may have Down Syndrome, but it does not make them love her any less. With Fundacion Bendaked, we’re trying to enable that simple happiness to continue.
Ultimately, that’s what it all comes down to. A family in America is no different from a family in Panama, in the idea that they just want to be together and be healthy. They may have different taste in music, or eat different food, or work a different job, but those core ideals will be the same no matter what culture you’re in.