Ipeti Embera

Overview

Located near Torti in eastern Panama, Ipeti Embera is an indigenous Embera community with a population of about 342.  The community of Ipeti Embera is well organized and has many established committees and organizations within the village.  The most common income generating activities are agriculture and making artisanal crafts. There are two separately functioning artisan groups that are integral to generating income, as they participate in tourism initiatives which serves as a market for selling their goods. Additionally, the main crops produced in Ipeti Embera are corn, rice, plantains, and yucca and there are six small kiosks in the town. For health needs, community members have access to a modest health post located within the community, but to see a doctor they would need to travel to Tortí. The top needs expressed by the community when GB began working with them were: improvements to the road and improved water and sanitation infrastructure.

Corregimiento: Tortí
District: Chepo

Homes : 72
Population : 342
Water System : Yes
Community Bank : Yes
Electricity : Majority of homes
Health Center : Yes-- in Torti
Community Health Workers : Yes
Homes with Latrines : 75%
Education in the Community : Up to 9th grade
Distance from Lodging Facility : 20 minutes

Medical

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

HEALTH CARE ACCESS:

Even though Panama is a country with a lot of economic growth, this growth does not apply equally to all Panamanians, especially those in rural areas. This results in stark inequality when it comes to healthcare access. The Panamanian Ministry of Health (MINSA) provides two different types of health facilities throughout rural Panama: Centros de Salud and Puestos de Salud. Centros are the larger of the two, often found in municipalities, and typically have at least one physician on staff at all times with nurses and potentially a dentist. Puestos are found sporadically in rural communities and generally have a single nurse available. 

Even with this coverage, the Centros frequently lack a full pharmacy and the staff capacity to see every patient each day. After walking long distances or paying for a bus, rural visitors to the Centros can expect long wait times given the limited staff and resources to meet the demand from all neighboring communities. The physician density in Panama remains around 630 people for every one doctor. According to the World Health Organization, there should be a maximum of 435 people per physician to qualify a country as having adequate access to medical attention.

Ipeti Embera has a Puesto de Salud in the community, but it is not regularly staffed. The nearest Centro de Salud is in the town of Torti which is about 30 minutes away by bus once the community members have walked to the highway. The most common illnesses reported by community members are: colds, diarrhea, skin infections, body aches, and lice.

293

Volunteers

1,618

Patient Consultations

N/A

Vision Screenings

34

Health Education Workshops

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS:

Marisin Docamo, the CHW from Ipeti Embera, shares her training material with the Leadership Insitute volunteers, July 2017.

Ipeti Embera has 1 Community Health Worker that was trained by Global Brigades. Community Health Workers, or Agentes Comunitarios en Salud (ACeS), work on a volunteer basis as advocates for healthcare within their communities. Their primary responsibilities include: educating community members to prevent common illnesses, providing emergency first aid, supporting pregnant mothers and newborns, and following up with chronic patients. The presence of these volunteers and their advocacy for health within their community contributes to the sustainability of healthcare supported by Global Brigades’ Medical Program and is one of the most impactful disease prevention strategies in rural communities.

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in Ipeti Embera’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the classrooms. Each day of the brigade, an average of 5 educational workshops or charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

  • AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 208

MEDICAL/DENTAL VOLUNTEERS IN IPETI EMBERA:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
University of Virginia & Vanderbilt University March 2012 41 Harvard University January 2013 28
San Francisco State University June 2013 31 Florida Atlantic University March 2014 25
West Virginia University March 2015 39 Carnegie Mellon University March 2016 26
 Columbia University  January 2017  24 Northwestern University & University of Waterloo August 2017 23
American University of Antigua & University of Mary Washington January 2019 24 Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals Professional Brigade June 2019 14

Dental

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

DENTAL CARE ACCESS

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.

254

Dental Patient Consultations

105

Fluoride Treatments

110

Extractions

5

Fillings Performed

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in Ipeti Embera’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the classrooms. Each day of the brigade, an average of 5 educational workshops or charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

  • AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 208

MEDICAL/DENTAL VOLUNTEERS IN IPETI EMBERA:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
University of Virginia & Vanderbilt University March 2012 41 Harvard University January 2013 28
San Francisco State University June 2013 31 Florida Atlantic University March 2014 25
West Virginia University March 2015 39 Carnegie Mellon University March 2016 26
 Columbia University  January 2017  24 Northwestern University & University of Waterloo August 2017 23
American University of Antigua & University of Mary Washington January 2019 24 Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals Professional Brigade June 2019 14

Water

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

IPETI EMBERA’S ACCESS TO WATER

Ipeti Embera has a gravity-run aqueduct water system that was constructed in 2006. There are frequently problems with the dam connected to the aqueduct, and it has been an issue that the community has to deal with regularly. When it runs smoothly, the water runs four days a week, eight hours a day. The water pressure is normal, and the water is chlorinated twice a month.

One hundred percent of the population is connected, and each household must pay a one-dollar-a-month maintenance fee. The source of the water is located three and a half hours away. Ipeti Embera has their own water committee with three members that meet on a regular basis. While improvements to water in the community can be made, this is not Global Brigades’ immediate focus as the water committee is quite advanced in managing these issues.

Water System : Yes
System Type : Gravity aqueduct
Homes Connected to Water : 100%
Water Council : Yes

Business

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

IPETI EMBERA’S ECONOMIC CHALLENGE

Community members in Ipeti Embera lack access to financial resources within the community. The majority of community members do not have bank accounts and there are 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 30 minutes to Tortí every time they wish to access their funds, 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.

In the last few years, one of the artisan groups (Bayano Bahupono) established a cooperative in conjunction with IPACOOP, a governmental agency that helps start and audit cooperatives throughout Panama. One disadvantage is the irregular support from IPACOOP which was resulted in challenges for the young cooperative to stabilize itself.

391

Volunteers

268

Loans Disbursed

52

Saving Accounts Opened

$14,226

Capital Invested

IPETI EMBERA’S MICROFINANCE SOLUTION

 

Through Global Brigades Business and Microfinance initiatives, Ipeti Embera can receive proper training on bookkeeping and administration best practices.  Additionally, Global Brigades has worked in conjunction a second artisanal group to establish a Community Bank.  With both the Buhapono cooperative and opening of the Community Bank, community members have suitable access to credit for the first time, and access to saving accounts for the first time.  

One of the cornerstones of the success of future projects is the sustainable nature of a Community Bank: investments are approved through loans granted to community projects; interest is then paid back on the loans—both large and small—and 100% of profits stay in the community, enabling the funding of more loans for more projects in the community. Capitalization of the cooperative is directly linked to the development of Ipeti Embera; the growth and success of their Community Bank mean growth and success for the community.

IPETI EMBERA’S BUSINESS SOLUTION

In addition to the Community Bbank, Global Brigades supports established and start-up micro-enterprises. In Ipeti Embera, there are over 20 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 VOLUNTEERS IN IPETI EMBERA

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Penn State University March 2013 42 University of Southern California March 2013 16
Dublin City University March 2014  8 Indiana University March 2014 11
Yale University March 2014 14 Drexel University June 2014 14
Oakland University August 2014 17 Columbia University January 2015 15
Dublin City University March 2015 12 Brown University & DePaul University March 2015 16
Texas A&M University May 2015 31 St. Olaf College January 2016 12
Arizona State University May 2016 17 University of Waterloo August 2016 15
University of Missouri January 2017 6 Central Michigan University& Pennsylvania State University March 2017 16
Carnegie Mellon March 2017 16 University of Maryland Baltimore County March 2017 11
Indiana University & University of Nebraska Lincoln May 2017 15 Arizona State University & University of Nebraska Lincoln & West Virginia University May 2018 18
Texas A&M University January 2019 31 Texas A&M University January 2020 10

Public Health

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

IPETI EMBERA’S SANITATION CHALLENGE

When Global Brigades began their partnership with Ipeti Embera, only about one percent of the community had sanitary latrines. Most community members that do have latrines have pit latrines, which are prone to flooding in the rainy season, and in the summer months heat causes these latrines to be a breeding ground for bacteria. Thus, GB focused on creating hygienic bathrooms in Ipeti Embera with a shower and composting latrine for each family.

494

Volunteers

40

Sanitation Units Constructed

9

Hours of PH Education Workshops

200

Number of Beneficiaries (approx.)

PUBLIC HEALTH SOLUTION IN IPETI EMBERA

Between March 2016 and March 2017 Medical Brigaders in conjunction with Global Brigades technicians and a Peace Corps consultant completed a composting latrine project in the community. This new latrine structure is equipped with an attached shower and a bathroom with two chambers for waste. Solid waste combined with the adding 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.

PUBLIC HEALTH VOLUNTEERS IN IPETI EMBERA

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
University of North Carolina Wilmington Medical December 2013 Vanderbilt University Medical March 2014 35
Carnegie Mellon University Medical March 2016 26 University of Arizona Medical  March 2016 23
Penn State University Medical May 2016  35 Maryville University Medical May 2016 27
University of Missouri – Kansas City Medical May 2016 30 University of Minnesota Medical May 2016 25
Texas Tech University Medical May 2016 32 California State University East Bay Medical June 2016 32
University of California – Berkeley Medical June 2016 28 Regis University Medical July 2016 25
Indiana University / Purdue University Medical August 2016 25 Southern Methodist University / Kings University London Medical August 2016 31
Penn State University University Medical January 2017 32 University of Maryland Baltimore County Medical January 2017 31
Columbia University Medical January 2017 22 Northeastern University Medical March 2017 36

Local Reference Points

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

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