This year, the UMVIM, SEJ Staff and Board has come together and pledged $12,000 of funds that will be matched, dollar for dollar, for every generous donation that is given on November 29: #GivingTuesday 2016. We believe our mission is big, and we also believe that we can't send trained, equipped volunteers into the field to show Christian Love in Action without the support of our community.
This year, learn more from those who have personally experienced the impact of all UMVIM has to offer. Jane Dunn, UMVIM, SEJ Board of Directors Medical Chair was asked to share what UMVIM means to her.
What challenges do volunteers have serving in Panama?
Coming from a culture with material wealth and many education opportunities, it is often a challenge for UMVIM Volunteers to listen and learn from those living in poor societies. One such place exists in the jungle society of the primitive Ngabe people of Panama.
What differences do you see in teams whose leaders have been trained by UMVIM, SEJ?
As a trained UMVIM Team Leader that had been taught about cultural diversity and collaboration and returning to Panama for several consecutive years to partner with the Ngabe people, my first inclination was to decide on OUR plan for them and only provide short-term clinic services. We soon learned through the input of our missionary host, Rev. Rhett Thompson, and local leaders that a partnership where Ngabe goals and needs were identified worked best.
Share a brief story about the impact of volunteers
A three-part health promoter curriculum was developed to address issues of sanitation, disease transmission and maternal/sexual health. Students volunteered or were selected by their communities to pariticipate. Most of the students had marginal reading skills from either zero to up to 3rd grade level. None had successfully completed a formal education program until they “graduated” from this 3 week course.
Through the formation of friendships and collaboration, over 22 Ngabe students have completed the course, of which over half continue to serve in their communities. One trained health promoter who was explaining the program to visitors said, “Most people in our country just think we are dirty and ignorant, but…you (UMVIM Team) believed in us!” What a blessing for our UMVIM group to be partners in a successful program that has blossomed under the direction of our Panama brothers and sisters. God is Good…. All the Time!