Volunteering is something I’ve always loved doing. To me there’s nothing better than the feeling of helping others and giving back. My search for a volunteer opportunity in Panama ended when I heard about APROJUSAN. The Association Pro Juventud de San Felipe is an organisation located in the Santa Familia building in Casco Viejo, Panama City- just downstairs from Casco Antiguo Spanish School.

Volunteer in panama

The girls drawing together

Aprojusan is a non-profit organization who serves youth age 7 to 18 and offers programs such as tutoring, arts, sports among others. Their mission is to educate children and teens, help kids express themselves, build self esteem, strengthen family values and set life goals. Volunteering in Panama at AROJUSAN was the perfect fit for me since I love working with children and I needed to be fully immerged into the Spanish language.

After contacting Jose Joaquin Pacheco, an active volunteer, I was ready to start volunteering. He spoke English, which was a great help if your Spanish is basic. I have to admit, I was a little nervous going there alone; especially since I was not yet fluent in Spanish and I didn’t really know what to expect. As usual, I was worried for nothing!

On my first day, he came to get me at Plaza Cathedral because I didn’t know the exact location of the building. That was great because I was afraid to get lost in Casco as I didn´t know the area.  When I arrived, it was full of kids already. All I could hear was they´re fun, vibrant voices and laughs- so much energy in the air. At that moment, I knew I was at the right place and that I would definitely not get bored!

Soccer time after finishing their homework

Soccer time after finishing their homework

Jose made the children stop whatever they were doing so we could introduce each other. One by one, they introduced themselves. That took a while considering they were about 30 to 40 kids. After that, right away, I was already needed. I helped with computer homework, Spanish and English homework. You would think having the language barrier to be a problem- not at all. The kids are the best helpers when it comes to learning. They teach you by showing you and by playing. For example, one of them showed me a pencil, and then he told me what it was called in Spanish. He said it soo slowly I started laughing.

After that day, I knew that this would be a place where I would come often – and it is. There is so much love and passion in their hearts, it’s unbelievable. Most of these children are living in the poor area of Casco Viejo and that doesn’t stop them from playing and enjoying their youth. When they see me in the streets, they greet me and give me hugs. I was even taken into this little girl´s home to meet her family. She was so proud to introduce me as her teacher. That´s when I knew that I was making a little difference in their lives. Even if I was just volunteering once a while, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that I was helping in the best way that I could.

Maeva is originally from Montreal, Canada. She has been living in Panama City since January and currently works at Casco Antiguo Spanish School.  If you are looking to volunteer in Panama, at APROJUSAN or another organization in Panama City, please contact maeva@cascospanish.com for more info. Casco Antiguo Spanish School organizes volunteering in Panama free of charge for all students learning Spanish here at the school.