Many of you already knew me when I lived and worked with the villages of Altos del Valle and El Valle Abajo in Panama
(collectively called Los Valles). The time I spent sharing my life with the Ngobe Bugle people was probably the most
inspiring and meaningful experience I have ever had.
This week much of the western part of Panama experienced
incredibly severe rains, and consequently, tremendous amounts of flooding. Among the areas hit were the communities
of Los Valles. To date there are more than 14,000 people who have lost their homes or been forced to leave
them. Among the homes destroyed were many of those in Los Valles. To me, these are just houses.
These are homes that I spent time in. Doors that were once opened to me with incredibly and amazing generosity and
I am still working to find out how many homes in Los Valles have been lost, but the count appears
to be significant.
Since I left Panama I have maintained my efforts to assist them, but what the communities
need now is above and beyond anything I have ever done. The highways are destroyed and the villages cannot be
accessed. There are two Blackhawk helicopters that the US government has supplied to fly food and basic supplies into
the area, but from the reports I have received from my contacts down there, there is an ongoing and desperate need for help.
Of utmost need is: clothing, baby formula, medical supplies, bedding, food, and monetary donations with which to purchase
I know that times are hard here. I know there are a million disasters
and causes every time you turn around I know it's the holidays. I never want you to read a message I send
and feel obligated or feel bad. I want you to support who, and what causes you believe in. But I also know that
I love these people, and that I will ask for help for them 5,000 times over. And the truth is that as stressed as
our economy might be right now, we've still got it pretty good in comparison (most people seem to be more worried they're
going to eat too much tomorrow than that they won't have anything at all).
The villages have little
to nothing. These communities are agriculturally based and the long term implications of this disaster on their local
economy will be hard felt and long reaching. With an average annual income of $400, rebuilding will be challenging at
best. They need help. Especially right now. If you have clothing or bedding or anything you
think could help please contact me. If you live in the Los Angeles area I will come and pick it up from you.
It is of course easier to send money, but I will take anything you can give and I will get it to them. I don't care
what it costs me. I don't care what it entails
. (See below for donation details).
of our lives we spend separating "us" and "them". We forget this is all "us". Every disaster. Every triumph. This
flood. Last week's fire. Our most recent election. It's all part of one amazing and never ending cycle of
life and our shared human existence.
We are one world, and truly one community. Tomorrow
is a day to be grateful for all that we have - for all that we share as well as for the all the ways that we are given to
love one another in this world. If you can help with this it will be, as it always is, very much appreciated.
Jess TO MAKE MONETARY DONATIONS GO TO www.powerof5.org and link to our PayPal account.You can call me directly at 310-402-1793
to discuss any of this or to have me pick things up from you. If
you're on Facebook I have posted photos of Los Valles and the children, as well as photos of the flooding.