Platanilla

Overview

Platanilla is a Latino community of 80 homes with a population of approximately 600 people. Located in Panama Este, it is situated along the Pan-American Highway, the main stretch of road throughout Panama. As a Latino community, they follow the general administrative government structure of Panama. Platanilla is primarily an agricultural community, cultivating privately owned land and raising livestock. Community members who own land and seek loans have access to credit through Platanilla’s savings and loan cooperative, called “Raices de Mi Tierra.” Working in collaboration with Business Brigades and IPACOOP (the Panamanian governmental organization that oversees cooperatives), the cooperative received legal status in May 2012. Platanilla has both a health center and health committee. As one of Global Brigades Panama’s Holistic Communities, medical/dental brigades conduct mobile clinics, human rights brigades offer pro-bono legal services, and business brigades offer local business consulting.

Corregimiento: Rio Congo Arriba
District: Chepigana

Homes : 82
Population : 600
Water System : Yes
Community Bank : Yes, a community cooperative
Electricity : Yes
Health Center : No, only local health post to receive some supplies
Community Health Workers : No
Homes with Latrines : 80%
Education in the Community : Up to 9th grade
Distance from Lodging Facility : 1 hour

Medical

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

HEALTH CARE ACCESS:

Platanilla is a community located in the hills of Eastern Panama, off thePan-American highway, near the town of Torti.  Due to its remote location, Platanilla has a small sub-center of health.  The sub-center is not staffed with doctors, but it does have a community health worker that is trained to treat a few common illnesses; otherwise, community members must travel either to the health center in Torti (30 minutes away) or the hospital in Chepo (2-3 hours away).  Additionally, the Panamanian Ministry of Health stocks sub-health centers with only a few rudimentary medications that are unable to meet all of the needs of Platanilla.

327

Brigade Volunteers

2836

Medical Patient Consultations

27

Adult Health Education Workshops (Approx.)

27

Children Education Workshops (Approx.)

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS:

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. Platanilla will go through a process to select an ACeS worker and once this person has completed all trainings, will start visiting community members with health needs.

Some of the ACeS worker’s primary responsibilities will 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.

MEDICAL BRIGADES IN PLATANILLA:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Chapman University May 2012 56 Duke University December 2013 23
CUNY Macaulay Honors College August 2013 55 Texas A&M January 2014 40
University of Puget Sound May 2014 24 Wellesley College January 2015 27
Louisiana State University May 2015 36 Montclair State University January 2016 31
Northeastern University March 2017 35

*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 Platanilla can receive health support and resources consistently without the arrival of brigade volunteers in mobile clinics.

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.

707

Dental Patient Consultations

346

Fluoride Treatments

54

Fillings Performed

18

Dental Education Workshops (Approx.)

DENTAL BRIGADES IN THE COMMUNITY:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Texas A&M January 2014 40 University of Puget Sound May 2014 24
Wellesley College January 2015 27 Louisiana State University May 2015 36
Montclair State University January 2016 31 Northeastern University March 2017 35

*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 Platanilla can receive health support and resources consistently without the arrival of brigade volunteers in mobile clinics.

Business

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

PLATANILLA’S ECONOMIC CHALLENGE

Outside of the community’s cooperative, access to financial resources in Platanilla is not available to every community member. According to a community survey, only 50% of community members have access to financial resources through cooperatives or the national bank. To access the nearest institutions, members must travel to Tortí, a 30-minute bus ride, though not all community members can become members of the savings and loan cooperative in Tortí. The majority of the community members have agriculturally based businesses and small farms, cultivating crops and raising livestock. Larger financial institutions (which are inaccessible due to distance and do not approve loans to community members without a fixed income) make it very difficult for local microenterprises to grow and thrive. Through IPACOOP, credit and savings cooperatives have been established in parts of Panama Este and Darién in attempts to increase access to credit, build savings accounts, and fund local community projects, where the democratically controlled cooperative maintains all profits, which can then be used to fund other projects.

174

Brigade Volunteers

82

Loans Administered

$8,114.53

Capital Investment

16

Saving Accounts Opened

PLATANILLA’S MICROFINANCE SOLUTION

One of the cornerstones for the success of future projects is the sustainable nature of a community cooperative: 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 Platanilla; the growth and success of their cooperative means growth and success for the community.

 

PLATANILLA’S BUSINESS SOLUTION

In addition to supporting the cooperative, Global Brigades supports established and start-up micro-enterprises. In Platanilla, there are currently 12 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 cooperative 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.

 

 

BUSINESSES IN PLATANILLA:

Business Name Client Name Type of Business

Cultura de Colores

Kiosko El Luchador

JeanCarlos

Lucia Gonzalez

 

Sondao y Quisikir
Tesoro Wounaan
Venta de Platano (Teresa)

Ubilia Negria

Livestock

BUSINESS BRIGADES IN PLATANILLA:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
UC Berkeley / John Hopkins May 2012 14 UCLA March 2013 18
DePaul University March 2013  11 University of Calgary May 2013 21
UT Austin May 2013 12 Columbia University January 2014 14
DePaul University March 2016 10 Vanderbilt University March 2015 15
University of Southern California May 2017 21

 

Public Health

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

PLATANILLA’S PUBLIC HEALTH CHALLENGE

Platanilla is located in the Darien province, in Eastern Panama. Platanilla has a sub-health center located in the community. The community has a gravity aqueduct water system, with 100% of families connected to it for $2/month. Although the system sometimes does not function due to broken pipes or lack of rain, it is generally reliable, especially during the rainy season. Approximately 50% of homes in Platanilla have cement, instead of dirt, floors. However, no community members have in-home water filters.

 

258

Brigade Volunteers

20

Latrines Constructed

N/A

Hours of Volunteer Construction

100

Approximate Number of Beneficiaries

PLATANILLA’S PUBLIC HEALTH SOLUTION

With the cooperation the Comite de Salud (Health Committee), and the support of local families, Public Health Brigades has constructed 20 composting latrines for family homes throughout Platanilla. One particularly valuable aspect of Platanilla is the nearby river. From this river, families can gather sand and gravel to use in the cement and concrete mixes for their latrines. This ensures the support and partnership of the families but allows them to contribute in a low-cost manner.

PUBLIC HEALTH BRIGADES IN PLATANILLA

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Vanderbilt University March 2014 40 University of Maryland Baltimore County March 2014 40
University of Illinois, Chicago March 2014  33 Brown University, Carleton College, Santa Clara University March 2014 41
Stony Brook University June 2014 27 University of Manchester June 2014 20
University of California San Diego June 2014 51 Dalhousie University August 2014 20

 

Local Reference Points

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

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