The Health & Wellness team has been hard at work out in San Miguel; as of July, here are some updates about the many projects we have going on!
Brenda: Since my arrival in San Miguel, I’ve been working on planning and implementing improvements to the previous garden in Casa Llena. I started by planting tomato, pepper, watermelon, flower, bean, pea, culantro, lemongrasss, chive, arugula, bok choy, chard, and thyme seeds. It has been a few weeks and many of the plants have started to sprout and are flourishing! In a few more weeks I will be able to plant these seedlings directly into the soil so future interns, friends, and employees of Kalu Yala can enjoy the nutritional benefits of these plants. I also plan on participating in the San Miguel health week. For those interested, I will demonstrate how to collect and prepare seeds from commonly used fruits and veggies within the local community. My hope is that San Miguel community members will want to take better advantage of the produce available to them. With the very high rates of Type II diabetes in many parts of Panama, I believe helping people learn about the nutritional health benefits of organically grown produce can reduce this epidemic.
Jasmine: We are quickly approaching the date of my 1 mile race; July 13th. I have been working hard with fellow Kalu Yala interns to make this race possible. Some of the tasks I’ve done include talking to local farmers, constructing a flashy finish line, and gathering interest in the community. This race will serve as more than just a race—it will be an opportunity to promote running as being fun and to promote buying local food so that hopefully in the future we can start a farmer’s market.
Morgan: My main project is the health fair. I am focusing on diabetes, hypertension, and sugar consumption. They are all big problems in San Miguel and hopefully by providing them with information on the topics it will help to improve these illnesses.
Portia: My main project is water testing. Cristina and I are testing water tributaries and determining the amount/presence of E. Coli and other coliforms that are in drinking water. We are also researching easy water sanitation methods to be presented during the health fair.
Anna: I am teaching 1st and 2nd grade as well as working on the Art program in Juan Gill. I am also putting together material for the health fair focused on food systems, local food, and nutrition for health.
Cristina: My main project is water safety. I am taking water samples of various water sources in oder to assess the safety of the drinking water. I am currently testing for the presence of E. Coli and coliforms.
Johana: I am helping and planning the Health Fair in San Miguel. My biggest interest is preventative care, so I’m planning on implementing those ideas into the fair. I am also hoping to start a sort of blood pressure clinic where people could come and get their blood pressure checked without having to wait in line at the clinic (which can take hours). We would also teach others who are interested how to take blood pressure readings so the service would be sustainable without us.
Ann: The past few weeks have been focused on conducting interviews on public health issues in the San Miguel area. At this point, the two main themes of the research have been focused on the prevalence of diabetes as well as illnesses involving the water supply in the village. I am also actively working with a team that plans on promoting a clean water initiative in the area.
Kelly: The semester and the interns have kept me busy from sun up (actually, before sunrise) until night most every day; but seeing projects I’ve long wanted to start and implement happening, seeing interns developing existing projects or creating their own, have made the hours well worth it. Between 5am exercise class, helping teach in the San Miguel school, continuing soccer and starting a new afterschool program for all sports, helping Ann interview community members about health and healthcare, working on the Health Week seminars and race, visiting the clinic and hospitals for interviews and information, helping with water testing, and then helping run a house of 20 people, time is flying!