During a five month stay in Boquete, Panama I was introduced to a hiking group who gather several times weekly to explore various mountain walking trails. It was on one of these explorations where I had the privilege of meeting Bill and Gina Brick. Whispers had been circulated around town about a missionary couple from the USA who were in Boquete doing extraordinary things. Once I had met them it became apparent their story needed to be told.
So why do they do it, and what’s in it for them? You’ll be surprised by the answer. Bill and Gina traveled to Panama on their own dime to donate their time and use their own resources to help the children and the community. They aspire to live a life of service, and have been doing so in Boquete for over 3 years. They chose this location because it is central for travel, close to the USA, has gracious citizens, is affordable with a temperate climate and has a pensionado program.
Bill & Gina Brick
How they do it
Living a frugal life off a small pension, the Bricks cover the costs for their mission work while they wait for donations to come in. It’s important to emphasize that 100% of ALL DONATIONS go to helping the children and the community. There are absolutely no administration fees, which means your contributions go directly to the cause(s). This is as powerful as it is unusual. We often avoid contributing to charitable causes not knowing where our hard-earned dollars are going. In the case of these two special missionaries, they will provide donors with full disclosure on the disbursements so you are aware how your funds are being used. You can even take it a step further – by following their initiatives at www.brickspath.com, you will be privy to causes on which they are working. Based on this knowledge, you can send money to a specific cause that resonates with you.
The Children’s ministry has fluctuated from 10 to 30 kids at any given time. The list of what these genuinely wonderful people are doing to help the children and the community is too long for one short story, so here is a sample of what they’ve accomplished to date:
• Community outreach – upgrading local parks, constructing sidewalks and front porches, covering dirt floors in the homes, teaching the natives to help each other (encouraging support) – plastering and painting the open cinderblock homes to keep out the moisture
• Teaching bible stories and scriptures
• Providing arts and crafts
• Introducing and play games
• Providing snacks and meals
• Providing first aid care and infection prevention
• Providing medication in emergency situations to families in need
• Offering guided field trips
• Assisting the elderly
• House and pet sitting
• Assisting with home life improvements
• Teaching English – Since some parents can’t read or write, they’re in no position to teach their own children
• Helping the children get into school – Many are not in school due to lack of documentation. Without a birth certificate or cedula these children can’t attend school, or qualify for medical care. Getting proper documentation is a life changer, because without it they are destined for a life working on the coffee fincas.
The missionary work provided by the Bricks is a conduit to HEALTH & WELLNESS, POTENTIAL AND OPPORTUNITY. The best way to create everlasting change is to teach the children of today coping and life skills. This can and will eventually break the vicious cycle of poor education, poverty and discontent.
Understanding the health risks associated with extremely poor oral hygienic health, the Bricks embarked on a mission to get treatment for 10 underprivileged children who were in critical need of dental care. They enlisted the services of Dr. Luz Cruz to perform the required dental work on these 10 children. For a meager amount of $1800 to cover materials, Dr. Cruz filled over 60 cavities and treated a plethora of impactions and extractions. The Bricks paid for these dental costs out of their own pockets and did not receive reimbursement until donations came in for this specific cause.
Living in the middle of a native community, Gina and Bill have basically adopted a family of 12 kids and 12 adults. After two children died in a drowning accident, the community (with the guidance of Gina & Bill) banded together to put in sidewalks and build fences where the incident occurred, to prevent future accidents.
Money raised through Bricks Path has helped provide the necessary cancer treatment required for two neighborhood adults (parents or caretakers of these local children), as well as provide vision treatment and an artificial eye for another. The list of good deeds accomplished to date is lengthy.
Funds raised for school uniforms and knapsacks
How Can you help?
By simply reflecting on what you have and how blessed you’ve been, it’s hard not to feel a sense of gratitude toward Bill and Gina for dedicating their lives to helping those in need. Now picture children living in the streets without food, parental guidance, clothing, shelter, school and medical care. With that vision in your head, please open your hearts and donate to a cause that will positively change lives forever.
Written by Geordie Seed, Freelance writer