Survival Skills in Panama

Teenage girls who have been physically, sexually and mentally abused are getting close to aging out of the institutions where they live. Well aware of the violence in Panama and remembering the abuse they suffered, they are afraid of what their futures hold when they are on their own. Just Hope is working with local teachers and professionals to empower the girls with the “survival skills” they need to provide for themselves a chance at lasting independence. The girls learn foundational tasks of adult living, including everything from how to locate proper housing to how to pay bills and shop for groceries.This initiative also includes English language classes, as speaking English significantly improves their chances of finding a good job and securing a stable income.

Current Needs

In Panama, the girls in the Survival Skills program are taking on the interviewing process. This is particularly significant because an individual’s family background is important to most employers. And, since the girls are orphaned, often times without a reputable family history, discussing their family and background is difficult and can be quite intimidating. The team is determined not to let the girls get overwhelmed and to help them build the confidence to discuss their past and to talk about themselves and why they would be a qualified, valuable employee. We ask God to give them strength as they work through this difficult process.

We pray for unity amongst all leaders in orphanages. The enemy is against any work that helps an orphan – who are at the center of God’s heart. We need prayer for everyone to work together with one heart.

Our new English language training curriculum is almost completed, but we need one final push to make sure it is ready for the start of the second year of the Survival Skills program in Panama. We ask God for energy and perseverance for our teachers as they prepare.

In Colon, Panama, the reorganization of the orphanage has left many of the older girls out of the Just Hope Survival Skills program. The teachers are working to restructure the program to include the orphaned students in the community that need this information and opportunity. We pray that God will help us connect with the students that need us.

We pray for the two new interns, Olivia and Audrey, as they embark on training that will provide them with the skills to work with our Survival Skills students in Panama over the coming months.

We ask God to watch over the students from Malambo while they are on break, and pray they return safe and well-rested at the end of February.

San Vicente in Colon has made the decision to no longer allow students 15-years-old and above to stay at the facility. We pray that our teachers, Karen and Melva, are successful in making arrangements for these students so classes can continue in March.

We ask that God will guide the orphanage leaders in Colon as they make difficult decisions about their organization. May God protect the girls, and direct us in how to adjust to the changes and best serve our students.

We pray for the girls that are still very shy in public situations, and ask that they continue to gain confidence and self-assurance.

We pray that Farah, the first student to graduate from the program, will put the things she has learned into practice as she finds roommates, an apartment, and applies to college.

We ask for God’s direction as we pursue partnerships that can open more opportunities for the girls.

We pray for safety for our friends in Central America during the tropical storm season.

We praise God for the progress we are seeing in the girls’ lives, and for the dedication they are showing to the program.

Most Recent Updates


Hero Spotlight: Hope and Survival Skills Erase Maritza’s Fear in Panama

  • Survival Skills Student, Panama
When Maritza was three years old, she lost her mother to AIDS. Shortly thereafter, she was taken to an orphanage by her father, who could no longer afford to care for her. A few years later, her father also passed away. A very shy girl, Maritza lacked self-confidence to such a level that she rarely dared to go outside of the orphanage. Last year, at 15, she began the Just Hope Survival Skills program. After only a year and with the support of teachers and peers like Cheryl and Walkiria, Maritza completely transformed. Read Maritza's story...

Program in transition

The orphanage in Colon is under significant transition as the director, Sister Gloria, decides the next plan for where to move the girls who are 15 years old. The goal is to keep girls until they are in 9th grade (which is usually age 15) and then move them to other institutions in the community. Our teachers, Karen and Melva, are in the process of determining where the students are going to be sent and how they can still be involved in Survival Skills. The teachers have received strong feedback from the students that they want to continue the program so they know how to live independently once they graduate.

Survival Skills students share their thoughts

Several of our students in the Survival Skills program in Panama wrote notes about what the program has meant to them and what they have learned. Click here to read a few highlights.

Survival Skills Program Launched in Dominican Republic

We are excited to announce the launching of our survival skills program in the Dominican Republic! Using what we've learned from our program in Panama, we have made changes to the curriculum and application process. We look forward to bringing you stories about this new group of young people, and we ask for your prayers as we get them fully launched. Read more about the launch here.

Strategic partnerships offer growth opportunities to girls

We have formed strategic partnerships with local organizations that allow us to offer additional opportunities to our students. Girls have participated in a program called Transicion a la Vida, which included weekly Deloitte workshops that covered topics such as self-esteem and how to write a resume. The next Transicion a la Vida  program will be held every other Saturday beginning in January, and will address personal professional branding. We are also grateful for a partnership with Friends of Malambo, because they are experienced at connecting young people to jobs and college scholarships.