Panama’s summer season goes from January to April; most children are on school vacation and usually enjoy days in the pool and other outdoor activities due to the good weather.
The children from the community we serve don’t usually have opportunities to enjoy a safe summer with recreational activities; instead they are forced to wander the streets and usually end up spending their time with adults who expose them to topics inadequate for their age.
For that reason, this summer the Enlaces children had the opportunity to continue to train in Contemporary Dance with their teachers and they also received master classes from two very renowned US dancers, Kellee Blanchard and Robert Mills.
They also had Art classes where they began working on their self-portrait with the acrylic technique; they had Psychology workshops where they learned the differences between materialistic possession and personal accomplishments.
Every Friday they participated in different fieldtrips: they rode bikes in a road by the ocean, they visited the Miraflores Visitor Center from the Panama Canal and a Science and Art Museum for Children called Explora. The Enlaces kids summer program ended with a big swimming pool party, sponsored by the generous donation of swimming goggles and cap by Ben Betesh International from the brand SPEEDO, plus the cooperation of several people in the community with towels for the kids.
GENIS is 40 years old; she spent her early life in the province of Darien, with her parents and siblings. Despite her family’s limited resources, she was able to finish the eighth grade.
Twenty-two years ago, she moved to a poor, violent community in Panama City called Curundu, where she had to make many sacrifices as a single mother to feed her 5 children.
Genis learned about Fundacion Calicanto from a friend who had recently graduated from the CAPTA training program. As soon as she heard that the training would help her gain the tools she needed to be a successful woman, she decided to sign up for the training.
She stood out in the classroom because she is one of the few women from this neighborhood who has not been influenced by drugs or gangs; instead, she has learned to survive and learned from her experiences. Genis was one of the best students in the course; her goals included working in a hotel and own a descent home for herself and her family.
She left behind all her fears and insecurities and now works at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Panama. She started cleaning the public areas in the hotel and due to her initiative and excellent working habits, she’s moved up to housekeeping. Genis is an example of a woman who decided to change for herself and her family; thanks to the CAPTA course, her dreams came true.
GENIS es una mujer de 40 años de edad que vivió sus primeros años de vida en la Provincia del Darién, junto a sus padres y sus hermanos. A pesar de los recursos limitados de su familia, con mucho esfuerzo pudo llegar hasta tercer año.
Hace 22 años se mudó a una comunidad de riesgo en la Cuidad de Panamá llamada Curundú donde inicialmente tuvo que hacer muchos sacrificios para mantener a sus 5 hijos sola.
Genis fue referida a Fundación Calicanto por una estudiante egresada del programa de Capacitación para el Trabajo (CAPTA) y desde que conoció el programa, tomó la oportunidad de capacitarse. Caracterizándose porque a pesar de su historia de vida, nunca fue víctima de las drogas, ni de las pandillas de su barrio, sino que aprovechó cada una de sus experiencias para aprender. Genis fue una de las mejores estudiantes del curso, sus metas incluían trabajar en un hotel y adquirir una casa digna para su familia.
Dejó atrás todos sus temores e inseguridades y hoy en día trabaja en el Hotel Waldorf Astoria Panamá. Empezó en el área de limpieza de áreas públicas y gracias a su pro actividad y desempeño ahora está como ama de llaves. Genis representa una mujer que tomó la decisión de cambiar su vida y la de su familia; gracias a CAPTA su sueño se hizo realidad.
One of the exciting components of Esperanza is the community projects.
These are projects that the boys identify as community changers…
That show neighbors, police, and friends and family that the barrio is changing (both literally and figuratively).
Our most recent community project involved painting two homes in the heart of (the former) Ciudad de Dios (now referred to as Fortaleza).
The day was a great one…
With kids of all ages (and even a good handful of adults) coming out to help our newly-minted graduates.
Of course, there’s always something that doesn’t go as planned…
In this case, a number of neighbors were convinced that one of the (former gang) leaders was profiting off this painting venture.
Esperanza funds 50% of these projects and the boys fund the other 50%.
So to assume there are profits is ludicrous (but also understandable considering the circumstances).
Overall, a very successful day.
We even had a documentary videographer from New York, who was inspired by the boys at graduation the day before, come to film a bunch of footage.
The painting project is about 80% complete to date.
When complete, it will serve as a clean and sanitary place to announce the opening of our graduates’ first true (legitimate) business!