ARRIBA COLON! Gente Ayudando Gente

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Gente Ayudando Gente Founded

Mr. Robert WilfordThe family of Robert Wilford, founder of Gente Ayudando Gente Panama (GAGPAN), migrated to Panama from the United States in the late 1800ís.  Wilford was born in the Republic of Panama and raised in the City of Colon and left Colon in 1956 to reside in the United States. In June 2001, Wilford returned to Colon for a visit after an absence of 40 years.

Wilford was shocked to see the City and Province being destroyed by an economy that had been in severe decline for many years. With almost half the workforce unemployed, a once prosperous city was now devastated by the poverty of its people

As Wilford toured Colon that day, he looked into the faces of its unemployed people and saw hopelessness, fear and resignation that they had been passed by and their chance for a better life gone.

In the center of the once beautiful city was a slum, consisting of cardboard and tin shacks, that did not have electricity, running water or a sewer system. A deplorable and unsightly living area for over 1,000 human beings.

With almost  half the workforce unemployed, a once prosperous city was now  devastated by the poverty of its people.

In the center of the once beautiful city was a slum, consisting of  cardboard and tin shacks, that did not have electricity,  running water or a sewer system.

In the main downtown center of the city of Colon, a large number of multi-story buildings were unsafe for human habitation. The dire economic conditions in Colon over the last twenty years had made it difficult for the owners to collect rents. As a result, many of these unsafe buildings had not been properly maintained and were in danger of collapsing, as the supporting columns had deteriorated and could not support the structures. However, the buildings were still occupied by unemployed and disadvantaged families. In recent years several of these buildings had collapsed causing death and injuries to the occupants. Raw sewage poured out of the buildings. Many of the streets and alleys around the unsafe buildings were littered with piles of accumulated garbage and large rats were feeding on the discarded refuse.

Raw sewage poured out of the buildings. Many of  the streets and alleys around the unsafe buildings were  littered with piles of accumulated garbage and large rats  were feeding on the discarded refuse. A large number of multi-story buildings were unsafe for human  habitation. Many of these unsafe buildings had not been properly maintained and were in danger of collapsing.

The government and private sector did not have the resources, or most importantly, a plan to correct the deplorable condition of the City and Province.

Wilford was determined to find solutions for the conditions that were contributing to the decline of this once beautiful City and Province. In July 2001, Wilford returned to Houston, Texas and established Gente Ayudando Gente, a 501(c)(3) US charity and pledged sufficient personal funds to provide the financial support that would be required.

On July 16, 2001, Wilford returned to the city of Colon and established Gente Ayudando Gente (Panama) (GAGPAN), a non-profit Panama organization.

 

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