September 3, 2013
During our visit to our Peace Corps community Santa Clara, in the highlands of Panama between Volcan and Rio Sereno, we learned the status of the projects we helped start.
1) The annual fair, first in 2010 while we were there, continued in 2011, but there was none in 2012. There were alcohol sales in 2011 and many members objected and did not support the event in 2012 so there was not enough help to make things happen. In 2013 they did a one day event on a Thursday, which was reportedly successful. A three day fair is planned for this Deember.
2) Trash removal continues however there is still no recycling.
3) Community clean ups continued as before our arrival but the trash cans we helped get are still in place and are being used, so the community seems quite a bit cleaner.
4) We helped the Lezcanos and the other organic farmers get a better price for their coffee. They are selling to two Peace Corps volunteers who live in Vermont, and also are selling direct to customers in Panama City. From $.50 a pound they are now getting $4.00 – $10 a pound. They are planting more coffee and hope to improve production to 5000 pounds a year, which is still a relatively small quantity. They will have a niche market because of the superb flavor and aroma and the organic methods and should get good prices.
The Lezcanos provide training to many groups from Panama and many American students visit, sometimes for months at a time. To assist them in this activity we just offered to donate money to improve the area where visitors listen to the presentations. We hope this will be helpful.