This also affects the children of the indigenous Emberá tribe in the tropical rainforest along the Chagres River. They have not been able to go to school since the outbreak of the pandemic. Although the tribe is barely an hour’s drive away from Panamá City, the about 50 Emberá families there can only be reached by water. In order to teach the children at least once a week, the young teacher Graciella Bouché regularly made the arduous journey by canoe to her schoolchildren in the jungle. There were even television reports in Panama about this great endeavour.
“We must help the children,” said Ana, the wife of Wolfgang Schulte, Managing Director of LAPP Panamá, as she told her husband about the TV report. And so Wolfgang Schulte acted immediately.
The Schulte couple contacted the teacher and organised compasses, pens and pads for the school children. Wolfgang Schulte also phoned Matthias Lapp, who immediately agreed that LAPP should engage themselves further. The goal was clear: in order to facilitate regular digital lessons for the pupils, internet access and electricity were necessary. “Panama is a small country and I have many good contacts there,” says Wolfgang Schulte, who quickly found a solution together with the teacher. There is a tourist hotel near the tribe in the jungle. It is currently not in use due to the lockdown. But as it has a transmitter mast, an internet connection to the Emberás could be established by radio with the help of a transmitter station. The power supply was enabled through photovoltaic panels, and cables from LAPP ensure reliability of the connection. For example, the ÖLFLEX® SOLAR weather-, abrasion- and UV-resistant photovoltaic cables. These halogen-free, double insulated and networked solar cables are suitable for permanent use outdoors and can be connected to either earthed or unearthed photovoltaic systems. They are used for cabling between solar modules and for connecting individual rows of modules with an inverter. Schulte: “In just three weeks, we managed to coordinate the setup of internet access along with a solar power system for power supply with local providers, who in turn provide the hardware.” In addition, LAPP Panamá donated the tablets which were missing for 37 primary school children. Wolfgang Schulte privately donated the required school materials, such as pens and pads.
The handover took place in the jungle at the beginning of April, and was accompanied by a television crew. Mr. and Mrs. Schulte handed out the tablets to the beaming children, and in order to honour the visitors, the native inhabitants performed a dance under the palm trees. The local representatives of the Emberá in the communities of Katuma, Ella Puru and San Antonio expressed their sincere gratitude to the family and the LAPP group of companies.
Until the schools are hopefully allowed to reopen again soon, lessons have since been held virtually on a regular basis. Schulte: “Children are our future, and so they need our special care and attention.”
Video: © LAPP Latin America: Conectamos ayudando, LAPP Panamá