Miami University of Ohio /Columbia University Business Brigade, January 2017

Curtí is about 67 miles East of Panama City and Global Brigades began working with community members in 2015. Community members have access to credit through an established and thriving community bank which will support continued investment in local businesses and home improvement projects. People in Curtí are primarily dedicated to agriculture, small storefronts and the sale of artisanal crafts. Through Global Brigades, Curtí started receiving business consulting and human rights workshops in 2017.

Corregimiento: Torti
District: Chepo

Homes : 250
Population : 800
Water System : Yes
Community Bank : Yes
Electricity : Yes
Health Center : No, closest is in Torti (20 minutes by bus)
Community Health Workers : Yes
Homes with Latrines : 25%
Education in the Community : Up to 6th grade
Distance from Lodging Facility : 20 minutes


Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete


The community of Curtí currently has a health post (puesto de salud) attended by a nurse. When there is only a nurse available and a community member needs to see a doctor or dentist, they must travel the to Torti, the nearest town with a full health center where doctors and occasionally dentists are on staff.  The trip by bus can take 25 minutes, but visitors to the health center can expect long wait times given the limited staff and resources to meet the demand from all neighboring communities. The most common illnesses found throughout the community are the common cold, fever, and diarrhea. The children are especially affected by parasites. Close to half of the population or more have pit latrines, but almost all are in the Latino part of the community while the indigenous traditional homes are generally more basic.

Starting in August 2017 Global Brigades Medical Program will be transitioning to a local partnership model and strengthening the Community Health Worker program (ACeS) so that communities like Curtí can receive health support and resources consistently without the arrival of brigade volunteers in mobile clinics.


GB Panama’s Medical Dental team started the Agentes Comunitarios en Salud or ACeS program in 2016. “Agentes” from 10 communities in East Panama and Darien were Panama’s first community health workers. Among these first CHW is Jenireth Gonzalez of Curtí who is on track to complete all trainings in 2017 and start visiting community members with health needs.

Some of Jenireth’s primary responsibilities include:

  • Promoting healthy practices and maintaining contact with GB staff about their progress
  • Performing First Aid in the case of an emergency
  • Managing the Patient Referral cases of the community
  • Promoting involvement with other GB programs such as Human Rights, Public Health and Microfinance workshops
  • Recording and monitoring members of their respective communities who:
    • Are pregnant
    • Have a chronic disease
    • Are children under five
      years old.



Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete


Curtí has not received its own medical brigade as it sits adjacent to other community partners of Global Brigades which host our mobile clinics. Its community members are taken into consideration when estimating the number of patient turnout for nearby brigades.

Starting in August 2017 Global Brigades Medical Program will be transitioning to a local partnership model and strengthening the Community Health Worker program (ACeS) so that communities like Curtí can receive health support and resources consistently without the arrival of brigade volunteers in mobile clinics.



Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete


Community members in Curtí lack access to financial resources within the community. The majority of community members do not have bank accounts and there is only limited informal forms of credit available.  For example, a person could obtain ‘credit’ at a local store by buying something now and paying later, simply adding it to their ‘tab,’ but there would be no formalized credit transaction.  Larger financial institutions do not approve loans to community members without a fixed income, making it difficult for local micro-enterprises to grow and thrive. Most community members cite the distance to the nearest bank as the main discouragement to having a personal savings account. Even if individuals wish to travel the distance, not all community members can become members of these financial institutions–cooperatives require monthly membership fees, savings accounts often require a fixed income, and the cost of travel provides an additional barrier.


Brigade Volunteers


Loans Administered


Capital Investment


Saving Accounts Opened


The Global Brigades Business and Microfinance Team trained a new Community Bank in Curtí in 2016.Following the launch of the project, Microfinance and Business brigades arrived with fnancial training to community members and bank’s executive team in order to strengthen the knowledge and trust in the Community Bank. This encouraged the opening of more savings accounts, growth of seed capital, and upon the completion of six months of executive board training, the Community Bank began giving out loans to bank members to spur economic growth and home improvement projects.


In addition to the community bank, Global Brigades supports established and start-up micro-enterprises. In Curtí there are currently eight businesses that have received financial training and business recommendations. Agro-businesses are prominent forms of commerce within this community and adequate book-keeping and maintaining relationships with customers, as well as proper agriculture cultivation can lead to increased revenues for business owners and employees.

As members of the Community Bank these micro-enterprises, led almost entirely by women or families, contribute to savings accounts and budget for loans to expand their businesses in the future. Through the help of Business Brigades, clients get advice on their most concerning business challenges and can also receive assistance in developing sustainable agriculture practices.




Business Name Client Name Type of Business

Yenireth Gonzalez

Yenireth Gonzalez, Jimmy Gonzalez, Sixta Martinez





Jimmy’s Bakery

Jimmy Gonzalez


Mrs. Isilda’s chickens

Isilda de Gaiza Chicken venture

 Lana’s chicken coop

Ana Rosa Lana

Chicken venture

Mrs. Olivia’s Kiosk

Olivia Moná


Pollos de Quinceanita


Chicken venture

Pollos de Basilia Ojo

 Basilia Ojo Chicken venture



Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Miami University of Ohio / Columbia University January 2017 9 Duke University / University of North Carolina Chapel Hill March 2017 22

Public Health

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete


According to local interviews in Curtí, approximately 25% of homes have latrines and about 70% have concrete floors in their homes. Such living conditions can trigger disease. Diarrhea, colds, and stomach pain are commonly reported in the community. Due to a lack of resources needed to improve their homes they are more at risk of preventable diseases caused by unsafe living conditions.


Brigade Volunteers


Latrines Constructed


Hours of Volunteer Construction


Approximate Number of Beneficiaries


In the summer of 2016, Global Brigades began working on a Public Health construction project to build composting latrines based on a design implemented in other parts of this region in Panama with Peace Corps. This partnership Global Brigades develop a strategy to introduce a new type of latrine in Curtí and create a lasting impact.

This new latrine structure is equipped with an attached shower and a bathroom with two chambers for waste. Solid waste combined with scoop of sawdust after each use allows the latrine to become a source of compost. When solid waste and sawdust completely fill the first chamber it is sealed off and the toilet is moved to the second chamber. After 6 months of composting, the first chamber is re-opened and is ready to be used as a compost for gardens while the second chamber is used for the bathroom. Once the second chamber is filled to capacity the cycle starts over.





Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Universtiy of Oklahoma May 2017 33 Rutgers University May 2017 16
New Hampshire Area May 2017 31 Western Kentucky University June 2017 24
Foothill College August 2017 26 Northwestern University/ University of Waterloo August 2017 23

Local Reference Points

View the map to see the closest volunteer lodging facilities, hospitals, and other relevant points of reference.

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