One of our most fruitful ministries is Hogar JUCUM or “YWAM Home” in English. Hogar JUCUM is an indigenous youth, junior high and high school completion boarding school. As we would minister to the tribal peoples in the remote mountains and jungles of Panama, we were often approached by parents asking us to take their children back to the city so that the could get an education.
The Panamanian government has done an excellent job of making primary education available to everyone in the nation, but in remote areas it can sometimes take hours and days to walk or boat to school. In these remote villages, the children have no access to education beyond 6th grade. These youth are then left few options but substance farming and low-end, manual labor jobs. In addition, because of low income, poor housing, lack of education and living hand to mouth there is a high percentage of sickness and young girls becoming mothers by the age of 13. This cycle of poverty has gone on from generation to generation.
At first we told the parents we couldn’t take their youth to the city and that it was best for their children to stay with them. As time went on, they continued to ask for assistance and we began to hear the horror stories of indigenous youth that would migrate to the city to get an education without any protective structure and guidance.
In one case a young girl was offered a domestic job with the employer promising to provide her with an education. Instead of receiving the promised education, she was locked in the house and raped by this man until she became pregnant and was then promptly thrown out by the employer. In anther situation a 12 year boy was staying with a relative in a red zone of Panama City so that he could go to 7th grade. At this large inner city school he was approached by drug dealers. He was told to sell drugs for them or they were going beat him up and if he didn’t fall in line, they would locate his mother and kill her. Later he managed to escape and return to his village.
Because of these cases and many like them, we decide to start Hogar JUCUM. We not only provide these youth with an education, but with Christian discipleship as well. We have now had over 60 students representing all 7 Panamanian indigenous tribes complete 7-12th grade with us. Many have gone onto college and further YWAM training. They work in a variety of careers today from education, pastoring, banking, business owners, leaders of indigenous rights organizations, missions and helping youth in situations just like they were in.
You can help Hogar JUCUM through sponsoring one of the students financially, volunteering your time as a tutor, or working as a staff member.
We need teachers, dorm parents and people just willing to serve. If this tugs at your heart, contact us.