Cynthia, Panama

Comunidad Oma, Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé, Panama, August 2013


I interviewed Cynthia (17 years old) at her school in the indigenous territory “comarca” of the Ngäbe-Buglé peoples Panama, where she lives. She had previously migrated temporarily to Costa Rica to harvest coffee. I asked her about the experience.

Cinthya’s story

“I was born and raised in Cerro Balsa. I walk two hours to and from school every day. I went to Costa Rica when I was ten years old, with my seventeen year-old brother. I am seventeen now. I don’t remember what the name of the place is, but it was not close to the border, it was more up north. Yes, San Marcos. My brother had already gone coffee harvesting once. 

What my parents said about it, that I went? Nothing, they said: “All the best to you there.” Yes, they were proud. They did not say anything.

It was good in Costa Rica. I remember the finca it was nice. The house was nice. It was of tabla, wooden planks. We slept on mattresses. There was no water and electricity though and we shared with a lot of people. I did not like that. I don’t like to live like that. I got along well with them, but I did not like it.

I felt good on the finca. You want to know how I felt?”, she asks. I said: “Like, happy, sad, annoyed…”. She answers: “Ah, happy. Always. Yes, I too have   been sad, because I wanted to return to the comarca, because there were many people. I missed my family but I was not really sad because of that. Yes, I have been scared too, when I was alone at home. That happened a lot. I was scared because I did not like to be alone in the house. That happened often, in the afternoon or on Sunday. My brother would go to buy food. I did go with him sometimes. “