Puerto Lara

Overview

 

Puerto Lara is located in the biodiverse region of Darién, East of Panama City. Global Brigades began working with this community in 2016. Families in Puerto Lara are members of the Wounaan ethnic group. Community members maintain much of their traditional lifestyle, speaking Wounaan as their main language, and living in traditional wooden homes on stilts. 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 for families within the community. People in Puerto Lara are primarily dedicated to agriculture and the sale of artisanal crafts. When Global Brigades first started their partnership with Puerto Lara, community members expressed that their top needs were: improvements to education, health, and housing.

Corregimiento: Santa Fe
District: Chepigana

Homes : 70
Population : 529
Water System : Yes
Community Bank : Yes
Electricity : Yes
Health Center : No, closest is in Santa Fe (20min by bus)
Community Health Workers : Yes
Homes with Latrines : 100%
Education in the Community : Up to 9th grade
Distance from Panama City : 4 hours (220 km)

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.

Puerto Lara has a Puesto de Salud. When a community member needs to see a doctor or dentist, they must travel 30 minutes away by bus or car to Santa Fe, the nearest town with a full Centro de Salud. The top illnesses reported by community members in Puerto Lara are: pneumonia, common cold, and skin infections.

177

Volunteers

1,358

Patient Consultations

65

Vision Screenings

56

Health Education Workshops (Approx.)

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS:

A group of CHWs from East Panama, trained in 2017

Puerto Lara has 2 Community Health Workers that were 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.

Medical brigaders present a charla in Puerto Lara’s school, 2018

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in Puerto Lara’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the classrooms. Each day of the brigade, an average of 10 educational workshops or charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

  • AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 362

MEDICAL/DENTAL VOLUNTEERS IN PUERTO LARA:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Penn State University / University of Pennsylvania May 2016 35 Pennsylvania State University January 2017 32
University of Central Florida Medical March 2019 30 Florida State University & University of Florida Medical August 2019 37

Dental

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

DENTAL CARE ACCESS

A dental charla in Ipeti Embera, Panama

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.

490

Dental Patient Consultations

237

Fluoride Treatments

258

Extractions Performed

24

Fillings Performed

Medical brigaders present a charla in Puerto Lara’s school, 2018

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in Puerto Lara’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the classrooms. Each day of the brigade, an average of 10 educational workshops or charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

  • AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 362

MEDICAL/DENTAL BRIGADES IN PUERTO LARA:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Penn State University / University of Pennsylvania May 2016 35 Pennsylvania State University January 2017 32
University of Central Florida Medical March 2019 30 Florida State University & University of Florida Medical August 2019 37

Water

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

Global Brigades is working on the implementation of the Holistic Model in Puerto Lara but has not yet begun with the Water Program. If there is a need, the Water Program will begin implementing a new water system or any necessary repairs to existing infrastructure as soon as feasible.

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

Business

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

PUERTO LARA’S ECONOMIC CHALLENGE

Community members in Puerto Lara 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 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.

93

Volunteers

206

Loans Disbursed

60

Saving Accounts Opened

$5,660

Capital Invested

PUERTO LARA’S MICROFINANCE SOLUTION

Puerto Lara caja leaders with a representative from the World Bank

The Global Brigades Business and Microfinance Team trained a new Community Bank in 2015 in Puerto Lara.They also brought Microfinance and Business brigades in order to strengthen both 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.

PUERTO LARA’S BUSINESS SOLUTION

GB staff helps a small business-owner from Puerto Lara fill out a Kiva loan application

In addition to the Community Bank, Global Brigades supports established and start-up micro-enterprises. 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 will receive advice on their most concerning business challenges and can also receive assistance in developing sustainable agriculture practices.

BUSINESS VOLUNTEERS IN PUERTO LARA:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Texas A&M University January 2016 29 University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign March 2017 21
University of Southern California Business December 2018 23 Pennsylvania State University, University of Florida, &
West Virginia University Business
May 2019 20

Public Health

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

Global Brigades is working on the implementation of the Holistic Model in Puerto Lara but has not yet begun with the Public Health Program. Now in the planning phase, the financing, delivery, and installation of household health infrastructure products will start as soon as feasible.

Homes with flushing toilets : N/A
Homes with latrines : 100%
Homes with baths/showers : N/A
Common house materials : wood, zinc

Local Reference Points

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

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