One of the greatest challenges for Few for Change is maintaining communication with our scholarship students throughout the school year to make sure they are meeting the requirements of their scholarship, and to provide additional support. This work would be impossible without the dedication of our incredible volunteers in Panama who are community members in the Comarca Ngäbe Buglé where our students live. These volunteers visit our students and their families throughout the year to remind the students why they are receiving a scholarship and the responsibilities that come along with it. This year, our volunteer in Hato Ratón, Ramon Pineda, has taken the initiative to organize various meetings and workshops with the students and their families in his community.
With these students and their families, Ramon reviews the scholarship application process and the expectations for those awarded the scholarship. Additionally, Ramon has organized workshops for our current scholarships students and their families to discuss self-esteem, leadership, responsibility, and how the students can make the most of this opportunity. This program has a special connection for Ramon that he leverages with these students. As a student himself, Ramon was the recipient of a scholarship from the German embassy. When he was awarded the scholarship, he was told “This scholarship is for Panama, not for Ramon.” Ramon took this message to heart and explains to students this is the primary reason why he is committed to coordinating the Few for Change program.
During his workshops, Ramon explains to students and their families that the purpose of the Few for Change scholarships is to develop leaders in the community so that they will support the growth and development of the Comarca Ngäbe Buglé. The scholarship allows the students to prepare themselves academically, so that they can then be of service to others in their community who most need it. While studying to be health workers, teachers, and agricultural technicians, the scholarship and Ramon’s workshops provide them with the support and skills necessary to give back to their communities.
The work Ramon and our other volunteers do on the ground provides a consistent link between Few for Change and the students, transforming the scholarship from more than just monetary support into a platform for training future leaders in the Comarca. We are so grateful to Ramon and our other volunteers who make it possible for Few for Change to continue to support students in the Comarca.