Visit a Panama web-site and you instantly fall in love with this country of luxurious holidays with the beautiful tropical sun, natural harbors breath taking scenarios and year long festivals. For lovers of vacation, panama would turnout to be your preferred destination. But the beauty ends there; for behind this image painted by tourism marketers, lays a whole population of Panamians living in drudgery, their livelihood bordering on misery.
But what is expected in a nation once ruled by the notorious Noriega and whose government after government has always been oligarch; government by the rich for the rich, and in the darkest of times ruled by corrupt military officials who took power ostensibly to prevent Arias Madrid from installing a dictatorship. Well I have had the unfortunate opportunity to reside at the heart of this nation of ironies, the Panama City; there is nothing to smile about. Yet I still pride myself in my national flag like any patriot should.
My dad had a decent job in Panama City where he worked as a in the tourism marketing department. We enjoyed the tour holidays that came to dad as incentives for all workers in their department. That was until fate dealt my family a blow. At a mere age of forty-six my father was diagnosed with a very serious case of prostate cancer. This caused untold trauma to dad, so much that he neglected his job. He felt that the God had been unfair to him; in his forties it was an age too tender to suffer prostate cancer. What followed was automatic dismissal with minimal benefits.
This became very hard times for my family. After several weeks of counseling dad agreed to have surgery on his prostate with the hope that he would recover; he did not, at least not as we had hoped. Instead the process left a dent in our family savings, and dad could not take up a full-time job. It fell upon my mother, a lowly paid nurse at a mission hospital to fend for the family. Were it not for her deep faith in God and her never ending recitations of the Rosary mom would have certainly given up on life. But she had faith to Move Mountains, and mountains she moved.
Luckily I recently finished college thereby reducing financial strain on the family. However, my sister Sarahi is only in her second year in a medical college. Although there is government scheme to sponsor college students, my sister did not qualify for full sponsorship because dad had a decent job when she joined. It is left upon my mother to cater for the balance. As if lady luck is not about to smile alt us, Grandma Mercedes moved in with us when her youngest daughter got married to a Venezuelan and moved to Venezuela; she is diabetic and in constant medication. Again my mother has to take care of her medication and very strict diet. Although dad has set up a small tour agency with the little pension he got, his health does not allow him to work full time and je cannot afford to offer much financial support to my mum
Since I graduated with a degree in software development eight months ago, I have not had a stable job to enable me offer help at home. The government ha remained deeply embedded in manual work force; for fear that information technology would cause huge job losses. Of course this is sheer absurdity. Influential people in power wish to maintain the status quo to enable them maintain corrupt networks especially in paying ghost employees in government and paying for ghost contracts. Unless there is Devine intervention, it is going to be tough times for my family for so long!