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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Merry Christmas From Panama....

This is our second Christmas away from home.  In many ways We are thrilled, but there is a part of Shelley and I that will always miss the joy that was being with all our family and friends at this time of the year.
Our decorated Christmas tree on board Blowin' Bubbles....

That said, since our last entry we have been busy giving away many school supplies to many children.  Unfortunately, it has all been pretty hit and miss because the children have all been out of school here in the San Blas Islands for almost a month.  There were independence days (4 of them) in November, Mothers Day (which was actually 3 days), and now Christmas.  We have learned that the officials just give the children almost 2 months off at this time of the year.

On one island we visited called Carti Subdup we met a man who took us to the island school where they were technically closed, but the director and a number of students were there when we arrived.  We took this opportunity to deliver a whole suitcase full of supplies for this school who serves 300-400 children.

The number of children varies because many children live on outlying islands and can't (don't) often attend.  Today we are anchored off an inhabited island where we noticed quite a number of children.  Later we will go with supplies to those children, who I am sure don't very often get to an official school.

While were in Carti Supdup we also delivered about 40lbs of medical supplies to the local clinic.  As many of you know, Shelley's mom died at the end of October and was given palliative care in her home before her passing.  It turns out that the medical supplies delivered for her care could not be returned for use in another home in Canada, so we packed up everything and brought it back with us.

The people in the clinic were thrilled to receive what we had.  This is not really our focus, but Shelley and I could not bear to see all that perfectly good medical stuff go to waste!  One of her moms nurses even donated an extra blood pressure device that she had in her car...

We are so blessed that the season of giving lasts all year!  For without your kindness, generosity and support, we could not do what we do for so many people who live so differently from the way we do...

We leave you all with Christmas blessings and love....

Kyle & Shelley

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Delivering Supplies to the San Blas Islands, Panama

Hi Everyone!  It has been some time since we have had internet.  Shelley and I are in the San Blas Islands in the south east end of Panama.

In late October Shelley and I had to rush home to be with her mom.  Sadly, on October 31st her mom died after a valiant 10 year battle with cancer.

While we were home we met with some of our support people in Canada and it was decided that we are now too far away for school supplies to be sent economically to us. So, although we will continue to collect supplies in Canada, most of those gifts will be used to fulfill our commitment to children at home who are in need.

This means that Shelley and I would appreciate your continued support by sending cash donations to:

Right to Write Ministry
c/o Ms. Glenda Rose
100 Barnet Cr.
Fergus, Ontario N1M 3E5

Or you can just use the "donate" button on the top right corner of this blog page.

Shelley and I will be using the money to purchase school supplies in bulk in major cities along our way. Our first purchase will be in the spring in Panama City as we prepare to visit the French Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific.

In the mean time, before we returned to Panama we packed 3 huge suitcases full of supplies from Canada for us to use here in the San Blas Islands.

This is an indigenous area of Panama where many of the people still live in traditional ways.  there are not many "towns or villages"  here but there are many many children.  The schools they do have are mostly huge with 800 - 1000 children drawn from a vast area.

This is too much for us to handle, so we have elected to help individual families as we encounter people along our way.  Daily, men and women come by our boat with everything from veggies to beautiful hand made molas for us to buy.

We have been finding out about their families and sending pencil cases and paper home to them.  Not very efficient, but a sure way to get the school supplies to individual children.

If you remember last year we distributed many supplies to many children in Los Fincas in Cozumel, Mexico.  This year, while we are not there ourselves, have been blessed with a few generous people who will give some stuff away again this year as Santa visits again...

We will publish a new blog as we connect with more children in this beautiful part of the world...

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Delivering School Supplies...

If you have been following our blog, you know that we have been waiting since may for a major delivery of school supplies from Canada.  After we got everything sorted out on the boat last week, we started distributing this week.  Our first drop was to help 80 children at Bahia Honda and 30 children at Bahia Roja, these two schools seemed to be a little worse off than most of the others we visited over the summer.

Unfortunately, they start a school break in a few weeks so Emily, the person from Give and Surf, suggested they hold off on giving the stuff out until the children return from break.  We agreed, and the supplies were given to the schools, but won't be distributed until the children return to classes after the break.

We did get invited to a community celebration in Dolphin Bay for the Dia de Campesino (which literally translates, "Day of the Pesant") in Buena Esperanza, a Ngobe-Bugle Indian village. This annual day of celebration features the farmers and their products and highlights the accomplishments of children who attend the village primary school.

The day included songs, dances, and the crowning of the 2015 Dia de Campesino Queen who is accompanied by a full entourage of Princesses and Caballeros.

A display of local produce from local farmers...

Local Flowers

Children getting the lunchroom/community center ready for the celebration

This years "Queen"

Making new friends...

The Peace Corps volunteers built this house for the school teacher and visiting Corps people.

We, and our friends, Mary and Carl were special guests at the village as we brought school supplies to all the children,

We were pleased that many of the songs and poems and speeches dealt with caring for the surrounding land and waters in beautiful Dolphin Bay. One dance the children performed, though, had us all laughing as we tried to imagine such in a U.S. or Canadian grade school. It was called "Dance of the Drunks"!
"Dance of the Drunks"
Participating in this special event was also the director of another school at the north end of the bay which we hadn't heard of.  Fortunately, we had enough supplies ready to go that we were able to help the 30 children from her school...  This was a real bonus.

Over the next few weeks we plan to see a few more schools before we take what we have left over to school in the south east end of Panama to the native communities in the San Blas Islands.

In the spring we hope to re-supply before we make the 5000 km (3600 mile) Pacific crossing to the French Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Busy Fall

It has been a really busy fall!  In Canada our support committee has collected a whole bunch of school supplies and sent most of them to Shelley and I here in Panama.  However, our commitment has always been to provide some support at home as well.  So this fall, Barb L. loaded her van and took 6 boxes and 5 backpacks for a back to school program at home in Guleph, Ontario.  Linda at the West Willow Neighbourhood group happily received our gift.

Barb & Linda
Backpacks ready to go!
Last year, 153 students from JK to Gr 12 were given backpacks filled with age-appropriate school supplies for back to school.The  supplies that we just donated were used to help fill  backpacks this fall.

Here in Panama, Shelley and I received 8 boxes of supplies from Canada last Saturday!  This week we will be distributing most of them to at least 5 native schools here in the Bocas del Torro region.

The container from the USA has arrived!

Finding our stuff...

Loading a Taxi

The supplies finally reach our boat!
 School supplies that are collected in the Guelph, Waterloo, Fergus regions are collected and stored at Speedside church.  Then our committee sorts and packages for shipment to Shelley and I....  They then go via a courier to Florida where they are loaded on to a container that takes approximately one month to arrive here in Panama.  From Panama City the container is trucked to a place called Almerante where it is loaded on to a ferry which takes it to Bocas del Torro...  From there Shelley and I take it by taxi to a water taxi, who takes it to our boat....  We store the stuff on our boat until we prepare to give it to schools in our area.  We take the supplies by dinghy or panga to the schools.  The bottom line is, every pencil and piece of paper we distribute goes a very LONG way and is helped along by MANY people.  Thank YOU!  Your gifts of money and supplies make all this possible...

 On Sunday we invited a couple of cruising kids to our boat to help us sort out the supplies for distribution to schools in this area.

In a few weeks Shelley and I will be heading to the San Blas Islands in the south east corner of Panama where we hope to deliver more stuff to more children...

This is an exciting time!  More pictures in the coming weeks!