WHERE DO WE WORK?

The Republic of Panama is in the heart of Central America and a unique blend of cultures and backgrounds.  Inhabited by indigenous groups long before Spanish colonists arrived, Panama's five tribes continue to exist today. They are spread out among neighborhoods and villages but also concentrated into areas called Comarcas, similar to reservations in the United States. The province located farthest to the east is called the Darién and has suffered a long term healthcare crisis exacerbated by long distances to travel for essential resources and fewer opportunities to work. The Interamericana Freeway does not connect into Columbia, resulting in few chances for business or commercial development. The Darién is where Prospera plans to open its first Soap Recycling Pilot Program. In the aftermath of COVID-19, we plan on using every opportunity to distribute soap and education/hygiene practices to save lives and prevent further spread of disease.

Nadine Gonzalez

 

Mayor of Pinogana, Darién

Nadine is a professional mother of two, serving her second term as mayor. Pinogana has 8 townships and is a melting pot of cultures new and old. Nadine encourages all leaders to do "selfless work for our population". Her heartfelt leadership during the pandemic crisis has been a source of great reliability to her constituents. Her vision for community projects and sustainable development makes her an excellent candidate for Prospera's Pilot Program. 

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Raulino Peña Padilla

Coordinator of Indigenous Villages

Raulino is currently acting as the Coordinator of Indigenous Villages on behalf of Prospera. He earned his Master's in Project Planning and Administration and continued his Postgraduate Education in Local Governments. He worked in the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Panama for a period of 10 years as Coordinator of Indigenous Areas. He currently serves as 'Executive Secretary of the Association of Municipalities of Indigenous Peoples of Panama' working for integral development and sustainability.

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Community Partners

 

Mentors & Collaborators

 
Image by Gabe Pierce

Diane Edrington 

Panama Missions

Diane is a Medical Missionary. She has worked among the Indigenous tribal communities in Panamá for 20 years. She currently serves as Medical Director for Panamá Missions. Panama Missions is associated with the churches of Christ, and is overseen by the Salem Church of Christ in Honoraville, Alabama.

 

Their organization coordinates medical team visits from providers all over the U.S. in various specialities and also builds houses and church buildings, distributes clothing, food, and other necessities; and seeks to improve the lives of people who are in need.

 

To learn more about Panama Missions visit their website here.

Dr. James & 
Vicki Burcham

Cataract Surgery & 
Medical Mission Team

The hard working team of healers led by Dr. Burcham was the true inspiration for Prospera. Dr. James Russell Burcham is an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon. He graduated from the University of Missouri, conducted his internship in Family Practice at the University of Alabama and his residency in Ophthalmology at the University of Colorado.

 

He and his wife along with an active team of devoted surgeons, doctors, nurses, interpreters and trained personnel travel to rural areas of Panama annually to complete cataract and pterygium surgeries along with providing a comprehensive medical clinic and free pharmacy for all in need. In 2020, they celebrated 20 years of medical mission care in Panama. In all aspects of their work they focus on bringing the love of Jesus to poor, blind and disadvantaged people.

Mark White

Tennessee State Representative

Mark began his career as a Teacher and Principal. Mark started the Global Children’s Educational Foundation in 2001 to provide education scholarships to students in Panama.  He is currently serving as State Representative in the Tennessee General Assembly; Chair of the House Education Committee.

 

Having run a successful NGO within Panama, Mark has provided Prospera with guidance and opportunity to meet government officials in-country for discussions on health and education. "Education creates opportunity for all to achieve their potential."

Erin Zaikis 

Sundara

Erin Zaikis has been a mentor and advisor for Prospera since its inception; offering her expertise in the areas of logistics and fundraising. Erin is the founder of RISE by Sundara, an innovation fund for female entrepreneurs with innovations to stop the spread of COVID in their own communities. RISE gives each woman $5,000 of seed funding, business training, and mentorship. RISE fellows are focused on improving water quality, hygiene, and sanitation.

 

As the founder of Sundara, Erin's organization recycled 1.8 million bars of hotel soap and employed 40 women full time across India, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, and Myanmar. Sundara reached over 200,000 children each month, working with partners like Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott. Erin is a Forbes 30 Under 30 (2018) and winner of the Summit Series Impact & Diversity Fellowship. 

 

Visit the RISE Sundara site here.

Samir Lakhani

Eco Soap Bank

Samir Lakhani reached out to Prospera in the very planning stages to ensure that our soap recycling processes were the safest and most beneficial to families. He has continued to act in a mentoring capacity and bring creative solutions to bumps in the implementation process.
 

He was the recipient of the CNN 2017 Heroes Award and has successfully championed soap recycling in 10 countries in Africa and Asia. The mission of Eco Soap Bank is three-fold: improve hygiene, protect the environment, and positively impact local economies. Visit his site here.

Kyle Hines

Prospera Panama

Kyle Hines is the Operations Assistant for Prospera. He found out about Prospera shortly after graduation
and immediately hopped on board with their mission. He uses his talents to help
however he can whether that be running social media, maintaining the website, or being an event photographer, he does what he can to help!

 

With a BS in Communication RTF (Radio/Television/Film) he hopes to use his love for all things media in an impactful way.