Thursday, November 24, 2005
The Future of Panama
The future of any country lies with its children. Panama will be in good hands. I have been to many towns and villages in Panama and my impressions are positive.
I realize that my very short nine day stay in the country is hardly enough to make any sort of definitive statement. I can only say that the children I’ve seen and interacted with were open, friendly, well-behaved and with none of the attitude that is so much in evidence in Canada and the United States.
I roamed the slum areas of Panama City and saw no gangs of disenchanted youth out looking for trouble. Instead, I saw kids dressed in school uniforms on their way to or from classes or chatting and laughing in small groups after school. Older, obviously unemployed young men and women, congregated in their own favourite places, but were never rowdy or disrespectful when I was around. I never felt anything but completely safe.
In rural areas, I saw many children, during school hours, either with their parents who were doing some sort of menial work or, as in the case of the young cowboys pictured here, performing their own jobs. I don’t know what the laws are in Panama about attendance at school. The two boys above on horseback were moving a herd of cattle along a stretch of the main Panamanian highway. They were delighted to be photographed and put an extra bit of swagger into their duties. The couldn’t have been more than thirteen or fourteen years old, about the age of my son, and it was late morning on a school day.
The two young boys in the other picture were standing on a bridge watching some grown-ups herd cattle. When they continued to walk down the highway, I asked if I could photograph them and they were happy to comply. They beamed, ear to ear, when I showed them the photographs.