By: Emily Brown, Georgetown University, ThinkImpact Panama Scholar
It’s hard to believe that we have only been living in El Cocal for just over 5 weeks, and I mean this in the best way possible. We have all become accustomed to waking early to the squawks of chickens, visiting our young students in La Negrita School for English Lessons, and spending hot afternoons relaxing at the tienda. We are now even able to recognize nearly all the dogs in town. The people of El Cocal have so graciously allow us, outsiders, into their lives that it feels as if we have been a part of the community since long before our arrival in June.
The same can be said for my fellow scholars. We didn’t know one another prior to our arrival in Panama City, yet through the design process and experience of living in El Cocal as outsiders, we have gotten to know one another very well and get along as if we have been friends for years.
Yet at the same time, it is hard to believe that just over two weeks remain of our time in Panama, with some of the most important and exciting experiences yet to come. As we look forward to our upcoming excursion to the San Blas islands this weekend, each design team is working to turn its project idea into a reality.
My two scholar team members and community partners are excited to finally prototype our product in the upcoming days. We had noticed that the people of El Cocal don’t tend to recycle and often have bottles around their homes or litter in the streets. We also heard many complaints from the town’s farmers about the lack of rain this year and the impact the dry weather has had on their crops.
In order to alleviate both of these issues, we have designed a gutter made out of plastic bottles that will take advantage of the days when it does rain by gathering rain water from the roof and leading it into a series of buckets for short term.
This water can be used to water community member’s home gardens until the next rain shower.
As our project moves ahead and our stay in El Cocal approaches its end, I’m excited to see what the final two weeks bring.
The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the author of this article do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University or any employee thereof.