One of the many advantages of offering our programs at the John Keffer Library and Community Center located in the Jose De Los Reyes Vasquez school in Caimito is the available, flexible space in this now refurbished multi-purpose classroom.
As the community helps spread stories of the wonderful activities, courses, and resources available at the Community Center, our program administrators continue to capitalize on collaborations. For example, our outreach efforts with INADEH (Panama’s National Institute for Vocational Training and Qualification) have allowed us to offer certified workshops. It was Profesora Elvia who first spoke with INADEH officials and instructor Graciela Castillo. After visiting the facilitates, she immediately began planning the first workshop together with Elvia. Following, the conclusion of the workshop in February 2023, we spoke with this enthusiastic instructor, to reflect on the success of this first workshop. Profesora Graciela Castillo hails from Llano Bonito, District of La Pintada in the Province of Coclé. The land of the sombrero pintado.
“My experience was marvelous. The environment and the building were crucial factors. Very important in gaining the community’s and the participant’s trust. The group was quite large (22 participants), all very interested in learning. I have been in other communities where the experience is not the same due to the space available, often times we are in small churches or community centers that unfortunately don’t have the resources or support that would be ideal. Many times we simply arrive to set up and we are obliged to get creative and be able to offer the workshop.” Because as Graciela explains when it comes down to learning, participants should be comfortable and have enough space to receive instructions and work.
“Elvia’s support was wonderful and she was an integral part in motivating people to participate and ensuring they continued their commitment to completing the workshop and obtaining their certificate. The participants showed interest and joy in what they were doing as they learned to make several different pieces of clothing, This was especially gratifying for me, to be able to share my knowledge and skills with the participants. Moreover, we all learned a valuable lesson about the power of generosity and sharing. As you look around the community center in Caimito you see people helping each other and that is contagious. In a word this experience was excellent.”
“I first heard about the Foundation through Elvia, who was highly motivated in her pursuit to offer the ladies in the community and surrounding communities this opportunity. It was she who approached me and asked if I would be interested in leading the workshop. I must say the Community Center staff and volunteers are spectacular, kind, simple, and sensible people, who are evidently carrying on a legacy of helping others to build a better future and have a better quality of life. What they do is not only admirable it is worthy of imitation. We always ask gods blessing so that these noble hearts may continue.
Future plans: God willing and with INADEH support Graciela would like to continue providing assistance as a workshop facilitator. In the future, Graciela hopes to have a place where these articles of clothing that are being created can be sold. I myself am an artisan. This could offer many of these people an important opportunity to generate income and support each other.
Forum Foundation is committed to supporting initiatives like these so that they may contribute to promoting sustainable change in the communities we serve.