Volunteer Bruce Panama,  help street children in Latin America. Bruce Panama: "Boo Yala school"

Bruce Panama Panama City, helps poorest children in  Boo Yala squatters camp

Very Poor Kuna Children
who would not otherwise
receive an education


' Boo Yala' SCHOOL & CHILDREN'S CENTRE is in the Boo Yala community of Arraijan jungle to the north of Panama City, Panama. Our aim is to give aid and support to the indigenous children of the Kuna families who left their Sanblas Island sanctuary on the other side of the Istmas, in order to live closer to the market opportunities available in the capital..Bruce Panama have agreed to provide basic education to the Kuna children, respecting their ancient native culture, and not putting pressure on them to assimilate into the larger Panamanian multicultural society..

Bruce Panama School in Boo Yala - a poor house serves very wellThe Boo Yala Children's Centre is housed in a raw brick building which also serves as a community centre.

A marvelous feature of Boo Yala is tht the houses do not have locks - in Panama City a city famous for its crime rate. How can this be? Boo Yala was formed by a group ofAndean peasants all known to one another. When they finally succeeded in posessing the land they bonded into a community; everyone looks out for everyone else. It is isolated from the rest of Panama City, the only road climbing up the high jungle to Boo Yala. It may be a shanty town to the ourside world, but to its residents it has as much community spirit as any community on earth.

Bruce Panama  Boo Yala director, Rosa Caycho

Many children do not attend school in Boo Yala, due to one or mor of three reasons: the nearest school is too far away, extreme poverty (even attending free school in Panama costs about $110 a year), abandonment or parental abuse (children of poor parents often are made to work instead of attending school) Our primary goal is to get as many children into school as possible, and this involves encouraging learning, talking to parents and in some cases purchassing uniforms and school books. We also are prepared to educate those children who cannot get into state schools. We accept the preferences of our Kuna families.
Teacher and students at
Bruce Panama Boo Yala

What to expect as a Volunteer:

Your Job at ' Boo Yala CHILDREN'S CENTRE' will involve:
  • Teaching children
  • Team working
  • Sport activities
  • Recreation activities
  • Teaching English to adults, evening hours (back at Panama City central)
  • Promotion work in Panama City.
All our Boo Yala children are extremely poor, not in school). Community & family participation are high.

Besides these activities, we welcome new ideas to make our project most effective for the children. Volunteering at Bruce Panama Panama City can be a tiring but immensely rewarding experience. You should be able to cope with big groups of street children demanding a lot of attention and enthusiasm. You will have to be a team worker, working together with Panaman and international volunteers. In the centre you will be a representative of the project and are expected to be responsible and behave as an example for the children. What you do in your free time outside the centre is up to you.

Volunteering at ' Boo Yala' is a fantastic way of getting to know Panama, of improving your Spanish, and above all, of interacting with the community and with the children of the city in a positive and helpful way.

The Region:

Panama City - City of KingsPanama begins in the mists of pre-Columbian times among the Kuna indians of Kuna Yala. Here, on a shining archipielago where there are more islands than there are days in a year, the Kunas still make their colourful Molas..West of Kuna Yala you will find the country's early Spanish beginnings at Portobelo. It was so named by Columbus on his 4th voyage to the New World. Portobelo has a history rich in treasure. Real action as the Spaniards plundered Peru of its Inca riches, a constant stream of booty began to flow north to Portobelo where it was stored, before its long way to Europe.

The Programme:

Bruce Panama  Boo Yala, Panama City - classes for children who cannot get into school: due to poverty, abandonment or abuseThe Children's Centre is located in a reed hut at the centre of a poor people's township. It has no water or electricity, but classes are in the mornings when there is always light, and we bring in buckets of water. Our international volunteers leave Miraflores at 8:AM and are in class teaching the children by 9:AM. Children attend the centre between 9 AM and 12:00 PM, (ending with lunch). Durting the morning volunteers and local teachers organise a range of classes, all designed to prepare the children for a future in the National Curriculum. Groups are divided up according to age or ability. None of these children go to school, so an important aspect of our program is teaching them group discipline and study habits. We regularly plan trips outside the centre, to play football and other games and activities..

The Language School:

In the evenings English-speaking and French-speaking volunteers give English and French classes to adults in our Miraflores campus in Panama City (where also our international volunteers live). The small donation our language students make is a contribution to the work of the Satellite Children's Centres.. Our students know that their tuition goes towards our work with the children and enables us to participate in the activities and expenses of the Children's Centre and our volunteers. Volunteers are therefore obliged to give at least one class per night to maintain our Language School.

Spanish classes are offered for free to all our volunteers.

Panama City, one of the first cities in South America