Thank you so much for all your support for our work in Coco Solo! On behalf of my friends and family, and those of Lorena Endara, Keenan Lee, Jessie Rubin, Wendy James and Maya deVries we received over $1,400 in donations and many nice words of encouragement. It was a big group effort this year and it so nice that I had the pleasure of working with all of these people in the fundraising and/or party prep. We received donations from over 40 separate people or families, which I really love because it really shows how if everyone gives a little for a cause, a lot can be accomplished!
Thankfully, this year the gang fighting has subsided in Coco Solo and both sides of Coco Solo could attend the Xmas party. This however made for an attendance of over 300 children and their parents! There were many activities this year. First we had snacks and then pinatas! 4 of them! The kids went crazy. We hung the Pinatas under our beautifully decorated Xmas tree. This is a tradition that I am really starting to love about the Coco Solo Xmas parties, the decorating time. The kids got super creative this year and we spent the whole day prior to the party decorating the tree, wrapping presents as decoration, blowing up balloons, making a big star and making “Feliz Navidad” signs. Jessie and Wendy spearheaded this operation and the place was really transformed with a new party atmosphere. While some kids were decorating, some were also helping Lorena in the community garden. They finished some major planting and started the compost pile. Its coming along really well and some kids are beginning to feel ownership and pride in the garden, even naming it “La Huerta Familiar”. Next up is the construction of the compost toilets.
So after the snacks and pinatas, everyone gathered in a the newly renovated Church that Pastor Mikey has created. Pastor Mikey is really amazing and he never stops. Besides raising 5 adopted boys, he finds time to start a soup kitchen in the community that is currently serving meals for 90 people, three times a week. He has taken an unused space in a Coco Solo building and has transformed it into a kitchen space, a dining hall, and a church. He has a contact from Colon, a business man, that is donating some food for the kitchen and Pastor Mikey has been collecting kitchen wares and appliance donations over time. A group of people brought a brand new freezer as a donation while we were there! Anyhow we all gathered into the church and did a Grand Premier of the movie made by kids during Cambio Creativo’s video workshop, mentored by Wendy James. It was great, and everyone thought it was hilarious. It was really nice for the kids a chance to show their whole community what they have been up to. Thanks to Wendy for such a successful workshop and for staying up late to get the editing all done for the party the night before!
All in all it was a great success, and another group stopped by who had heard about Pastor Mikey through a news segment that a local Panamanian TV channel did on his soup kitchen and brought a lot of food for the kitchen and toys! So it is great that more people are becoming aware of Mikey’s endeavors. We are still in need for a computer that would live in Mikey’s house and give his boys or others a place where they could type up their homework. If anyone in Panama has an old computer that they are not using we are definitely looking! Just something to keep in mind…Toys were handed out which was as always a little bit chaotic, but we got through it! Then we all ate arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) and had cake. There was also a dance performance by a group of kids that is organized within Coco Solo and kids flew their kites (newly gifted) and/ or played soccer. Oh and some of the young ladies ended the day with a modeling catwalk peformance. Yep we had lots of entertainment…
Without all of you NONE of this could have been possible. So thank you so much again! I think it really means a lot to the kids to have this yearly celebration. Below is a link to our pictures from the party. Some were taken by Jessie, and some by me, but about half were taken by local kids themselves. Moises Bernal donated to Cambio Creativo 3 brand new digital point and shoots and I had three one loan from my Professor Stephen Mahan. So the kids were shooting and shooting.
Here is a link to some of their photos of the Xmas party:
I hope that you all a great holiday season with your friends and family and a happy new year with many blessings! Many many thanks!