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January 2019 El Bochinche

Queridos PCPF Members,

Feliz Año Nuevo! I hope you all welcomed the new year surrounded by the people you love most. I was fortunate to spend it in New York with my sister and my niece, Klea. Part of the reason this newsletter is a bit late this month is because I spent my time introducing Klea to family traditions such as spending the first day of the year in nature, opening Kinder eggs at midnight, and making kulaç (a type of Albanian bread) with a coin hidden in it. Although it was her first year, she picked the piece with the coin and has secured a year worth of good luck :).

Twenty nineteen is an exciting year for PCPF. We have plans to ramp up fundraising efforts to support volunteer projects, grow our Regional Coordinator program to keep RPCVs in touch, and a few other fun surprises (;D). However, PCPF's SUCCESS IN 2019 DEPENDS ON YOU!

With Board elections coming up in February I encourage you to consider running for any of the available positions. Whether you are looking to give back to Panama or looking for a leadership role to enhance your resume, serving on the PCPF Board is a fun and rewarding experience. If you have any questions, please reach out to us. We would love to connect over email or phone and share with you what a day in the life of a Board member looks like.

In this issue of el Bo we celebrate success stories from the field made possible by your generous contributions, learn about a non-profit organization born out of a fellow RPCV's experiences, and try to connect Group 4 Panama RPCVs.

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2019 and I look forward to what this year has in store for PCPF!



PCPF Updates

Your Donations at Work: Family Ecostove Project

PCV Charlotta worked with 11 families in the province of Chiriquí to build ecostoves for each household. While the project's main goal was to equip homes with stoves that cause less environmental destruction and reduce the risk of respiratory illness due to smoke inhalation, it was also used as a tool to increase involvement in environmental education activities and future community projects. Many of the people who were involved in the ecostove project continue to stay involved with environmental activities in the community including trash management and recycling projects.

To learn more about the amazing work Charlotta and other volunteers are doing thanks to your generous donations and calendar purchases visit the PCPF donation page.

PCPF NEEDS YOU! 2019 Elections

We are looking for enthusiastic, creative, and passionate candidates to help take PCPF to the next level. Whether you have years of experience or are looking to gain experience, you can be an asset to our organization.

All Executive Board positions are open starting February 2019. Learn more about what being a Board member entails and please submit your application using the Election Form.

Celebrando el Amor

Did you meet you significant other in Panama or while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer? Is your partner a fellow RPCV from Panama or another country? Share your love with us for a special February feature of el Bochinche! Please send your photo with a sentence or two of how you met to

News From Panama

Panama prepares for the World Youth Conference

In just a few weeks Panama will be hosting the 2019 World Youth Conference, welcoming over 300,000 youth from all over the world to participate. The conference includes a visit from Pope Francis, and the total number of travelers that will be coming to Panama is  rumored to be even higher than expected. Most offices will be shutting down in the Clayton area where the Pope will be staying, including the Peace Corps office itself! Panamanians are preparing themselves, some as host families, others simply stocking up on household necessities, as it is expected that the influx of people might have stores low on essential supplies. Either way, it is bound to be an exciting week! Learn more about the celebration.

January 9th Panama observes Día de los Martires

This week Panama observes Día de los Martires, a day to recognize those that died in a clash with the US military that took place over several days, in the effort to exercise their right to fly the Panamanian flag in the Canal Zone. This event was pivotal in making progress towards the signing of the Torrijos-Carter Treaty, that transferred ownership of the Canal to Panama. Want to hear the full story? Learn more about the details of this event through the video.

Peace Corps Panama Updates

Preparing for Group 84

This January, our office prepares for the arrival in late February of our newest volunteers in the Teaching English, Leadership, & Life Skills and Community Environmental Conservation sectors. Welcome soon G84!

Happy New Year from the Peace Corps Panama team! 

Most staff have taken advantage of the holiday season to spend time with loved ones. For PCVs as well, some have chosen to spend this vacation with loved ones statesside, while others have enjoyed the festivities in site. Follow the latest from our volunteers through social media at: 

RPCV Spotlight: The Roots of Planting Empowerment

by Andrew Parrucci

It's 8:30 in the morning and I'm at a neighbor's place, waiting on a desayuno (it's fresh tortillas, and definitely worth the hour wait). The father, Juan, tells me his plan for the day is to go up to his finca in the mountains and log a couple of trees. I bristle: this is the Darien, where campesinos like Juan have logged thousands of hectares of old growth forest over the past 40 years. But I know Juan and his family. They're good people, and they have the right to earn a living from their land. Juan senses my disapproval at his plans (or maybe he just feels guilty) because he says "It's not like we want to deforest--but my kids need to eat." Of the hundreds of memories I can recall from Peace Corps, that's one of the most vivid. 

When the bridge over the Lago Bayano dam opened in the mid 1970s, logging activity east of Panama City accelerated dramatically. By the mid-1980s, logging companies had concessions on more than 100,000 hectares of forest. Loggers created roads, and the roads attracted settlers looking for agricultural and pasture land.

By the time I arrived in my community in 2004, thousands of hectares in the Darien had been converted. Cows now cover the landscape and plumes of smoke billow from the fields during the dry season. Once the land can't support cattle or crops, Teak companies often buy it up, and the campesinos move away to begin the slash and burn cycle anew.     

Against this backdrop, the idea for a new kind organization took shape. Planting Empowerment leases land from campesinos and indigenous communities, and reforests it with high-value timber species. Since 2007 we've reforested more than 27,000 trees and have generated $200,000+ in income and wages for our community partners. It's a drop in the bucket compared to the scale of the need, but if we can prove it's possible to work this way, then maybe other forestry operators will take note and make their forestry projects more equitable.


Calling Out To Group 4

Richard Davies, who served in Panama with Group 4, is looking to reconnect with his cohort. If you or someone you know served in Group 4 and are interested in linking with Richard, please reach out to him via email at

Amazon Smile

You can now support PCPF by shopping through our link on Amazon Smile. This does not cost anything extra to you nor does it impact the items that you can purchase. Amazon will donate 0.5% of your total purchase to PCPF.

Third Goal Activities

Do you continue to be involved in projects in Panama? Are you sharing your Peace Corps experience with other? We would love to feature you in the RPCV spotlight! Please fill out this this  Google Form  and let us know about the wonderful work you are doing.


Looking for RPCV Career Support?

Check out the PC Headquarters Career Center online or in person to help support you in finding your perfect career path post-service. Check out their web resources here .

Considering Grad School?

As RPCVs we are eligible for life to apply for grad school financial support through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship. Find out more about participating universities and their respective programs here .


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