Bud Keith Fund
Most blind students in Panama go to the same public schools as sighted students. Although their tuition is free, there are expenses associated with attending school, the largest being transportation and books. Those who attend private schools also have to pay tuition. We provide stipends to the students during the school year, ranging from $40 per month for primary school students to $75 for university students.
Of the 14 people who have benefited from these stipends since 2008, six are still in the program. Of the eight who have left, two graduated from high school, one earned a two-year university degree, three earned four-year university degrees, and one earned a Ph.D. The eighth is still in school but no longer needs our stipend. These excellent results reflect the care that our Panamanian partner, Patronato Luz del Ciego, uses in selecting the students. They also reflect the sustained supervision that the Patronato provides to the students.
The goal of our program is not diplomas but independence. Jobs have eluded some of our graduates. This is often due to factors other than their blindness – their family situations, health, living arrangements, or unrealistic career expectations. The biggest impediment is employers’ reluctance to risk hiring a blind person, so we supplement the scholarship program with other job-related activities.
Sometimes, a student overcomes all obstacles and achieves a successful career. Read about our star, Ingrid Rivas.