Curtí is about 67 miles east of Panama City and Global Brigades began working with community members in 2015. A typical home in Curtí is made of concrete bricks. There is a multi-grade primary school that offers up to 6th grade. For secondary education, children must travel 10 minutes by bus to the town of Tortí. The nearest health facility is also in Tortí, which means community members must wait and pay $1 to travel by bus each time they attend the clinic. Most homes in Curtí are connected to a gravity-fed aqueduct, but it is in need of improvements and a chlorination system. Approximately 25% of homes in Curtí have adequate toilets or latrines. 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. The top three needs expressed by community members were improvements to the water system, household sanitation, and improved access to health services.

Corregimiento: Torti
District: Chepo

Province: Panamá Este

Homes : 130
Population : 800
Water System : Yes
Community Bank : Yes
Electricity : Yes
Health Center : No, closest is in Torti
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. About 25% have pit latrines, but almost all are in the Latino part of the community while the indigenous traditional homes do not have sanitary latrines.




Patients Served


Vision Screenings


Health Education Workshops


GB Panama’s Medical Dental team started the Agentes Comunitarios en Salud or ACeS program in 2016. The current community health worker in Curtí is Johan Quintero.

Some of Johan’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.



Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Johns Hopkins University Medical Brigade May 2012 21
Oklahoma State University Medical Brigade May 2017 33
Northeastern University & University of Mary Washington Medical Brigade March 2019 38


Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete


In working closely with the medical program, the dental program provides fillings, extractions, and fluoride treatments as a standard part of medical brigades. Most community members do not have regular access to dental care due to the lack of dentist within a reasonable distance.




Dental Patients


Fluoride Treatments




Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Johns Hopkins University Medical Brigade May 2012 21
Oklahoma State University Medical Brigade May 2017 33
Northeastern University & University of Mary Washington Medical Brigade March 2019 38


Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete


Current water tank in Curtí

Curtí has a gravity water system constructed in 1975 which brings water from a stream outside the community. Many of the pipes are starting to deteriorate and produce leaks. Additionally, the water is not centrally treated, so it arrives unfiltered to the homes where families are responsible for straining, boiling, and/or chlorinating it themselves. The original water storage tank is presenting fissures and is no longer large enough to satisfy the population of Curtí.

As the population of the community grew, the system was not large enough to provide consistent water to all the households. The water must be rationed, which means the water committee opens the system two times a week for 3-4 hours. When the water arrives, families fill barrels or buckets with water which they store and use until the next time. Finally, there are no water meters installed, so every household pays the same monthly water tariff regardless of the amount of water they used. This possibly leads to overuse, causing additional strain on the small system.




Project Beneficiaries


Km of Pipeline Installed


Capacity of storage tank (gallons)


In March 2020, Global Brigades began working with the community of Curtí to repair their water system. 

It was determined that the best fit for Curtí would be: to construct a larger water tank, replace the distribution network with new tubes, install an in-line chlorinator, and install household connections with water meters.  Upon completion, the repaired system will benefit 130 households, consisting of approximately 800 individuals.

In the interest of sustainability, after the project is complete, the members of the Water Council will be trained on water treatment and system maintenance, administration, and operation, so they can continue adequately managing the water system.  Curtí will also establish a monthly water fee determined by usage in order to pay the Water Council for water treatment, maintenance costs, and system sustainability.


Chapter Date Number of Volunteers


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.




Business Consultations


Saving Accounts Opened


Loans Administered


The leadership board of the Caja Rural de Curtí

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.


Jimmy, owner of Jimmy’s Bakery in Curtí

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.


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
Middle Tennessee State University August 2017 7 Unknown University September 2018 5

Public Health

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete


According to local interviews in Curtí when GB started working there, approximately 25% of homes had latrines and about 70% had 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.

Although community members recognized the problems inherent to their living environments, they did not have the economic resources nor the technical knowledge needed to address them. It also was necessary to increase the level of awareness concerning sanitation and the importance of health in the community.




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
Oklahoma State University Medical Brigade May 2017 33 Rutgers University Medical Brigade May 2017 16
New Hampshire Area Medical Brigade May 2017 31 Western Kentucky University Medical Brigade June 2017 24
Foothill College Medical Brigade August 2017 26 Northwestern University/ University of Waterloo Medical Brigade 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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