Pack for a Purpose

How a little suitcase space can make a big difference

After my first visit to Bocas del Toro I came across an article that talked about an international nonprofit agency called “Pack for a Purpose”. What caught my eye was the mention of Palmar Tent Lodge because we had stayed there when we were on the island of Bastimentos.

As it turns out, Palmar Tent Lodge and the Give & Surf nonprofit in Bocas del Toro are utilizing Pack for a Purpose to help improve the educational facilities in the nearby Red Frog indigenous community. I met some of the children from this village on the beach where they caught live red frogs for tourist to photograph. It is truly sustenance living for many of these people. They have preserved many of their customs and traditions and are very friendly towards foreigners.

This particular community is about a twenty-minute walk from Red Frog Beach and is home to the wonderful employees of Palmar. There is only one teacher in their village to educate all of the students in grades K-6. The parents built their current schoolhouse from salvaged materials and the schoolhouse has only one room with little protection from the weather. Someday the parents hope to upgrade to a concrete schoolhouse. In the meantime, there is a shortage of many small items that can be put to immediate use in the classroom, and this is where Pack for a Purpose comes in.

The next time you are packing for a trip to Panama and have some spare room in your suitcase, please keep in mind that you have an opportunity to help a community in need. Go to the website www.packforapurpose.org and click on Panama. Here you will find a detailed list of items that have been requested by the community. They ask that you bring only the supplies that are included on the list. There is even a section on the site that gives tips on how to pack efficiently. Online monetary donations are also accepted.

On my next visit to Panama I brought a half suitcase full of supplies for the village. I was not going to Bastimentos on that trip, so I contacted Palmar. They told me where I could drop my donation in Bocas and they picked it up on their next trip to town. Whenever I visit Bocas now, I will always be adding a few extra items to my bag for the kids!