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The Miracle at Duima
By Rod and Sherry Boyd

The Miracle at DuimaWe called Pastor Cesar before deciding to visit our Guaymi Indian School. In addition to being pastor of the church, Cesar is also director of the Duima Good Shepherd School. Cesar and his family are Latino (Panamanian) missionaries to the Guaymi Indians.

“How’s the road?” we asked. His simple reply was “passable.” Our plan was to attend the two Bible school graduations in David and Puerto Armuelles, then drive up to Duima on the way back. Classes were just finishing for the year. And the rains were also supposed to be stopping. It normally takes about 45 minutes to drive the 6 to 7 mile dirt road from the Pan-American Highway up the mountain to Duima.

The Miracle at DuimaWe were a little hesitant to travel the dirt road at the end of the rainy season, especially in our brand new Speed the Light vehicle, but we decided to go for it. Pastor Howard and Margie Cummings, speakers at our Bible School graduations, were along for the ride… the ride of their lives! The road was worse than we imagined. Our 4x4 vehicle had little difficult with traction. The problem was clearance… other vehicles and flash flooding had created nearly impassable grooves in the “road.” At times we had to get out of the car to inspect the road and make a decision about the best way to proceed. We almost turn around a few different times. It is always such a cultural experience to be greeted by so many who come out of their huts to watch the cars go by. One gets the sense that the infrequent vehicle traffic is entertainment for these humble people... it would be like the Guaymi version of TV!

The Miracle at DuimaWe finally arrived to the community of Duima after an hour and a half, twice as long as usual. We hiked in the last quarter mile. We met two men on the road that were surveyors from the Ministry of Public Works. They shared with us the good news that an improved road coming from the other direction would be finished this year. Pastor Cesar greeted us with a sheepish grin saying, “Maybe ‘passable’ was optimistic. 

The Miracle at DuimaAnd then we saw all of the children, with their dirt-smudged faces, They almost always had a smile on their face. The children are the Miracle at Duima: The 150 who study each day! We are helping them to escape from their prison of despair by offering them hope—Jesus and an education. They receive a quality Christian education and a hot meal every day.

2005 was a leap year for Duima. We took a leaf of faith to hire new teachers to complete the individual grade level classes and offer specialty classes. The first Guaymi Indian teacher was hired. Along with teaching the 5th graders, he also teaches all children the Guaymi language. Progress is being made to complete the inside of the staff house. Bathrooms, kitchen and a couple of dividing walls remain. The school depends on the staff house built by the Tennessee Pathfinders in 2003. An additional classroom and bathrooms will be completed this year. God has me every need!

200602SchoolsDuimaDuima takes a big step forward this year. We are opening the first seventh grade class available for the mountain-dwelling Guaymi Indians. All other schools, including the government schools, end at sixth grade. The interested is so high among the parents that we considered adding two classes. But to maintain balance in the school, we will offer just one large class. Please pray for this new seventh grade class. Pray that God will give us wisdom as we develop program and curriculum.

The Miracle at DuimaOne of the most phenomenal changes at Duima has been the addition of English and computer to the children’s curriculum. Although this was the first time we were able to visit Duima since returning to Panama, we have seen much evidence of the program additions. Several children are actually writing short notes to their sponsors in English! We were so impressed with the English teacher. We visited his class, where he was teaching a combined group of 3rd graders and kindergartners. He spoke perfect English! We noticed the subject material on the blackboard—he was teaching them the Christmas song Frosty the Snowman, very unusual since there is no snow or frost anywhere in Panama.

The Miracle at DuimaWe can’t express how impacting it was to see the small computer lab. Last June we were able to deliver and install four new computers to the school. Although there is no public electricity offered any where near Duima, the small power plant provides the necessary current to run the computers. And, one of our sponsors just donated a larger generator so that more computers can be installed. With the new seventh grade class opening, this will be a necessary addition.

The Miracle at DuimaPastor Cesar shared with us the experience he had with a supervisor from the Ministry of Education who had visited a few months back. This supervisor was very impressed with the Duima School. But, he couldn’t believe it when he saw the computers in the lab. He said none of the government Guaymi Indian schools have any computers and that he can’t even get a typewriter requisitioned for his office.

The Miracle at DuimaThe Guaymi Indians live such a humble life, marked by abject poverty. The basics of life that we take for granted—food, water, shelter, electricity—are a scarce commodity the Guaymi Indians. The sad truth is that there is no way out for the Guaymi. If poverty is their prison, then ignorance is the guard that keeps them there.

The Miracle at DuimaIn a recent article Dec. 6th, 2005, published by La Prensa, Panama’s main newspaper, the Ministry of Education reports that the Guaymi Indians have the lowest literacy rate in Panama; just 54% of the Guaymi population knows how to read and write. The impact of this illiteracy is staggering: “The incidence of total poverty among those 10 years of age and older that are illiterate (72.3%) is more than twice that of those that are literate (29.8%).”

The Miracle at DuimaYet there on top of a mountain is the Duima Indian School! What a difference it is making in the lives of children and young people. Thank you for giving to help some really poor children go to school. And thank you for praying.  Please pray for the children and staff. Pray for the new seventh grade class. Please pray for the building and support of the second Guaymi School that will open next year in the community of Soloy.