One Step Closer to a More Dignified Education in Bluff

The elementary school in Bluff has just received an important upgrade with the installation of a new water tank! This is a major breakthrough for our community and represents a significant change for the children.

Versión en español de la nota

Una Escuelita Para Bluff y maestra Raquel

Maestra Raquel upon the completion of the newly remodeled classroom structure

In 2022, the project “Una Escuelita para Bluff” (A Little School for Bluff) was launched with the aim of rebuilding the Luis Flores school and installing a permanent water system, taking advantage of rainwater collection. Cecilia Brecciaroli led this initiative, successfully remodeled the school structure during 2023, but faced a setback on the water objective when the existing tank was punctured and its installation could not be completed. However, this year, thanks to the collaboration of Micki Hentges, who contacted Ceci through Facebook offering help, the dream began to take shape!

Micki visited the school to learn more about the project. She encountered a challenging reality: the lack of water, electricity, and bathroom conditions that left much to be desired. This prompted her to take action: Micki shared her experience on social media, attracting the attention of Tricia Kingsley, a friend willing to join the cause. After assessing the situation, they worked together to finance the project. Then, with the support of Jacob Yoder and the YWAM Outpost Panama missionaries, they got to work. The YWAM missionaries provided free labor and helped clean up the school.

Micki Hentges and the school children of Bluff

Micki Hentges and the children of the Luis Flores school in Bluff.

However the initial joy was dimmed by an unfortunate turn of events: the emergency door was broken into and the newly installed water was stolen. Yet another setback, though Ceci’s determination, and that of the entire team, did not waver. With Jacob Yoder’s help, the tank security was reinforced to ensure that it would not happen again.

Despite the challenges, the Bluff community finally celebrated the successful installation of the water tank. Ceci shared a touching testimony with us about how the lack of water affected the daily lives of the children at school. “Before, the children spent the school day hours without water,” Ceci revealed with a tone of gratitude for the positive change. “I clearly remember that, while they were in class, you could hear them saying all the time, ‘Teacher, I’m thirsty.'”

These simple words reflect a reality that, until recently, was part of the routine at the Bluff school, but thanks to the joint effort and dedication of the community, this scenario has changed. Now the children can enjoy a more comfortable and safe learning environment.

water tank escuelita para bluff

In the small community of Bluff, the school plays a fundamental role in the lives of the 89 residents. Of these, approximately 34 are children, and currently, 20 of them attend school. Raquel Pérez has been the only teacher for over a decade, and currently teaches four grades in one classroom. Although she covers a wide range of subjects, from mathematics to English and science, her main focus is on teaching them to read and write. Ceci hopes to have more teachers in the future to provide a more personalized education, dividing the classes into at least two groups.

With the success of the water tank installation, the Escuelita Para Bluff project is now focusing on the next steps: gaining access to electricity and addressing the bathroom situation. Cecilia Brecciaroli, the driving force behind this project, shared details about the progress to date. After a meeting on March 13th, 2024, with the mayor and teacher Raquel, it was confirmed that the process of applying for the electrical connection was underway.

Bluff school bathrooms march 2024

Bluff school bathroom as of March 2024

Ceci emphasized the importance of working in collaboration with local authorities, explaining that she always informs the mayor about the steps being taken. “I don’t want problems, and I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” Ceci said.

The budget for the electricity meter is set at $1,450, and now the focus is on raising funds to finance this next step. Once the monolith for the meter is installed, a fire department inspection will be carried out to certify its safety. Subsequently, the mayor will contact the landowners to obtain the necessary authorization for Naturgy to provide the electrical connection to the school.

The lack of electricity has been a constant challenge for the school and its students. “Studying with so much heat and without basic comforts becomes unbearable,” said Ceci. The idea is that, at the start of classes, the teacher turns on the switch and they have a fan to relieve the heat and that one day, the children have access to a television to watch documentaries, movies, or whatever is necessary for the development of their education in a slightly more dignified and civilized way.

Cecilia Brecciaroli with her friends in Bluff.

In addition to electricity, Ceci has two other projects in mind that she would like to implement. One is organizing weekly groups on Fridays to provide voluntary classes to the children, offering them an enriched learning experience. She is seeking the support of professionals in various disciplines so that children can broaden their horizons and potentially discover talents. Likewise, she is also calling on the surf  community to teach swimming classes, as many children do not know how to swim despite having the sea right in front of them. All this with the aim of integrating them more into the local society and avoiding them feeling marginalized. For Ceci, it is crucial that children understand that there are people who care about them and are committed to their well-being.

Last but not least is the project for free school bus rides for Bluff students, as it is extremely difficult for them to afford transportation every day. Although it has been discussed with the mayor, he argues that someone has to cover the costs of those trips. However, the reality is that there are 7 teenagers in high school who need to travel to the town daily and cannot afford it, not even a dollar, as that money could be vital for their food.

Team work makes the dream work. Micki and Raquel (left) with the wonderful volunteers of YWAM Outpost Panama.

Editor’s Note: If you follow national news in Panama, you are aware of the recent “Auxilio Economicos” scandals of wealthy and well-connected families receiving economic aid for university tuition and study abroad experiences. When you juxtaposition the horrific scene of the Bluff school bathroom and the conditions of the school next to these multimillion dollar sums paid to upper-class families for expensive international study, it really gives you something to think about.

How can we as a community advocate to local leaders to improve the conditions of the school? And if local leaders are unable to get the job done, what can readers of The Bocas Breeze do to join Ceci, Micki, Tricia,  Jacob and all the nice people who pitched in on this water effort, to achieve the next goal of providing basic comfort for the students, so they can develop their basic skills in a dignified classroom?

If you are interested in getting involved in supporting the Bluff School, reach out to or +507 6537-0405 on WhatsApp.

Right now there is no official way to donate toward the next project. However, when a fundraising campaign becomes active, we will announce it, and we will be happy to get anyone serious in touch with the right people, whether it’s about the electricity, bathroom, school rides or volunteer teaching in the after-school activities program.

April 18 Update: Just as we are publishing this article, Skully’s has announced that they will support the cause of building two bathrooms for the Bluff school with their next fundraising event, the 2nd Annual Tropical Music Fest, on April 27, 2024. Also, those who cannot make the event and want to donate directly to the building of the bathrooms can make a contribution via PayPal to

Amazing news!  Another step toward a dignified education for the schoolchildren of Bluff. Stay tuned to the follow-up story on this wonderful community effort.

Micki Hentches and the school children of Bluff


The Bocas Breeze is a digital and print newspaper proudly serving the Bocas del Toro community since 2004; reporting news, advertising local businesses and promoting tourism in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

One Comment

  1. Trina Rae Reply

    I think that this is a wonderful project for all our local children!
    How many schools in Bocas here are in very much need!?
    Let’s get er done!
    Panama is a wonderful Happy Hospitable Country and these kids deserve it!
    Best Beginnings!

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