We were happy for good turnout for our program presentations in January and February, and for many offers of assistance. This write-up was suggested by Dianne Heidke who moderated our last informational event; this is for people who would like to contribute to our efforts or to learn more about them.
The Big River Foundation has five programs in Panama:
- Watershed Watch Expeditions – Rio Teribe – We bring university students to International Park La Amistad to assist the Naso with sustainable development projects in their watershed, a series of tributaries connecting their 12 communities on the Rio Teribe. The Big River Foundation can bring more volunteers if their travel is sponsored. A donation of $650 sponsors one volunteer for two weeks – two months depending on the expertise of the volunteer, the resources they bring, and the nature of their project. We prefer to schedule volunteers in pairs so they are not alone in the jungle experiencing culture shock.
- Watershed Watch Expeditions -Rio Caldera – This is an educational program for local school children in Chiriqui. We have identified teachers willing to implement our six-week watershed curriculum in their classes. Funds are needed to pay for buses for the field trip program and lunch on a tributary of the Rio Caldera, at Finca Santuario del Volcan Baru. The school year just started. Every $350 sponsorship brings the program to one school. There are dozens of schools in the area. The only limiting factor is the time for Executive Director Stephen Kaczor who opens the program in week one, with a school visit, guides the class in the field all day during week five, and closes the program in week six with another school visit. The teachers run weeks two, three and four with their classes using the curricula materials we provide.
- Eco-Tourism Development – Bringing visitors to Volcan Baru and La Amistad provides a dynamic experience for tourists, revenue for the foundation and the tribe, and pays for Naso guides and the indigenous families who provide home stay lodging and meals. We host arrivals in Boquete at Finca Nuevo Colorado at the edge of Volcan Baru National Park so they can summit for a view of the entire watershed including La Amistad, one of the most pristine watersheds in our hemisphere. Following this preview/overview we take them to Naso Territory upstream in a cayuca to visit the villages. Downstream options are inflatable kayaks or the tourists making their own rafts to return to El Silencio as the Naso have done for hundreds of years. We need more inflatable kayaks to increase the size of our groups to directly benefit more Naso families with more frequency. Good inflatables are $1,000.
- Grandmother Water is our documentary film project. We made a film short and are presently working on a feature-length documentary highlighting the evolving government in this democratic kingdom and their battle for autonomy to keep new conquistadors from damming their rivers. This will expand our educational mission globally through international distribution. Many communities across the world are fighting similar battles and each struggle enlightens the others. Travel funds are needed for cameramen and fees for professional editors. Each donation of $500 funds a filming expedition. We need to get to each of the twelve communities this year with our equipment to conduct interviews. Here is the link to our film short.
- Lobbying support is our final program. We cannot directly lobby Panama’s National Assembly as a foreign nonprofit. Rather, we have been funding Naso leadership and local nonprofits’ lobbying efforts. This is basically bus fare, hotel and restaurant expenses. Each donation of $100 funds a lobbying visit to Panama City. Our associates are currently seeking sponsorship for two bills, one to create the Naso Comarca (sign the petition) the other to establish a nationwide moratorium on hydroelectric development pending a comprehensive national environmental impact analysis.
Tax-deductible donations can be made via PayPal or the donate button at Great Nonprofits. However, the latter is more time consuming and expensive for us as fees are deducted and disbursements are made quarterly. The best method is to PayPal us directly using my email, Steve@BigRiverFoundation.org
Anyone wishing to visit the Naso on our next trip, please email or follow us on Facebook for announcements. We are sincerely grateful to our supporters. Our guiding vision comes from Baba Dioum who founded the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in 1968, “In the end, we consrve only what we love; we love only what we understand; and we understand only what we have been taught.” For more insights, visit our website.