Final Day in the Field

Wednesday was a great way to end our trip.  We were all saying, “This is what it must be like to work at National Geographic.”  Our day started very early with a 2 hour bus ride to a remote Kuna village outside of Panama City.  Then, one of the villagers took all of us on a 45-minute boat ride down a lake to another VERY remote Kuna village.

Also travelling with us was one of the chiefs of the first village.  He sat between Erika and Alison, and even shared his tarp with them when the splashing of the waves started soaking us all.  I’m pretty sure the boat was not supposed to have that many people and their heavy camera equipment on board—we were literally a few inches above the surface of the water.

But, alas, we made it to the remote village.  The site was absolutely amazing—tiki huts everywhere, and people in traditional Kuna dress.   We were all then brought into a large hut, and had to plead our case for being in the village to the chief.  We ended up interviewing the chief in the hut, and then went around the village and took photos and interviewed some of the families with disabled children.

It was a very humbling experience to travel these peoples’ trek to get to Panama City for health care.  A long boat ride and then a long trip the city—and we did the trip in a motorboat instead of canoes and in a private van instead of the bus.  And because of this long journey, most had never experienced medical attention.

After another wet ride back to the first village (on the main land) we spent a little bit of time with these Kuna people.  We interviewed a few families with a disabled loved one.  Here, we spoke with a family with a mute mother.  This was one of the few people that we interviewed this week that was not a child.  I found it fascinating that she had developed almost her own language to communicate with her children.

It has been wonderful hearing this story, and many others this week with our work with Fundacion Bendaked.  The people of the foundation are amazing people, and were so heartfelt with the people we visited.  They gave us all parting gifts of a beaded bracelets, which we all will cherish and remember all the people we met on our journey through Panama to expose the stories of those who need a voice.

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