GROTON — The Groton Dunstable Middle School Bookmakers and Dreams Club is building more than the Big Book: Project for Peace. It is building relationships with people all over the world and making connections to help others.
Club Adviser, Betsy Sawyer, contacted Peace Corps volunteer, Deirdre Leigh Doyno who is living in Panama. She is working with the Ngöbe Buglé, who live in the highlands of Bocas del Toro. She has found these families to be lacking in basic necessities such as warm clothes (the evenings get quite cold), shoes and boots, and hygiene supplies. Doyno told the families about the Big Book: Pages for Peace Project and that she would be writing a letter to be submitted to the book. She also took some photos of the families and received their permission to include them in the book.
To share her experiences with the Bookmakers and Dreamers Club members, Doyno created a video of the families, their homes, and their habits such as cooking and doing laundry and sent it to Betsy Sawyer. In her letter to Sawyer, she told the kids about the Indians’ day-to-day life. “Women wear gowns called naguas, made of bright colors and sewn in geometric shapes, while men’s dress is basically modern. However, during ceremonies, they will dress themselves with exotic bird feathers and paint their faces with geometric shapes, usually in black, white, and red.” She went on to describe their living shelter as, “…huts near rivers or valleys, where they fish, hunt, raise dogs, cattle, chickens, and pigs. They are known for living off their land,” Doyno said.
Doyno’s Peace Corps site, called Cordillera of Chiriqui, has a population that has become a blend of half indigenous and half Latino people. This is because, “A lot of the Indians will leave the reservation in hopes of finding work in farms, either with vegetable production or in dairy,” Doyno stated. The family in Doyno’s video, a family with fourteen children, was difficult to feed, because the father only makes $30 per week. Doyno skyped with the Bookmakers and Dreamers and suggested that they, “…have to be active to make good things happen!”
Doyno is staying on an extra year to continue to help these families. The Bookmakers and Dreamers Club members are helping in a big way as well. In total, the club members brought in and collected through the Middle School enough supplies to fill a wooden crate. Michael Bermingham, a GDRMS student and club member, searched the school for solid cardboard boxes. Then the rest of the club members, “…separated and sorted through the donations, packed them, and labeled the boxes,” Alex Philibert stated. Karen and Phil Strickland (sister and brother, managing a family business), of Ayer Moving and Storage, visited the Bookmakers and Dreamers to pick up the supplies, having offered to help have them delivered to Panama. The Stricklands explained their moving process to the kids, describing how the the boxes would be packed in the crate, and the crate would be picked up by a forklift, transferred to a moving truck, and then the boxes would have to go through customs. Once approved, the boxes would be moved to a ship to be transported to Panama.
At the end of the discussion, all of the Bookmakers and Dreamers Club members, Sawyer, and the Stricklands grabbed the boxes to carry outside to the Ayer Moving and Storage truck to start the delivery process to Panama. The students graciously thanked the Stricklands, each shaking their hands in appreciation of their help.