40 Students Sent to Univesity!

Just One Church, a non-denominational faith community that meets weekly in the Coronado Golf and Beach Resort, recently provided funds to pay the matriculation fees for 40 students at the Chitré Regional Campus of the University of Panama.

The church, which began in October, 2006, has no salaries to pay, no mortgage, no rent, nor any other expenses, so the weekly offerings are going to projects to aid and assist people and groups.  It has provided material assistance to the SOS Orphanage in Penonomé; medical supplies for 13 mini-clinics operated in the mountain region near Los Altos del Maria; and now, mini-scholarships for 40 students in Chitré.

The University of Panama has more than 74,000 students throughout the country, with seven regional campuses.  Though the tuition is paid for by the government, the students must pay a matriculation fee each semester, which currently is just under $28.  However, there are many qualified students who simply cannot come up with the matriculation fee.  So last January, four participants in Just One Church drove to Chitré to meet with the Dean to talk about how the church might help.  The university set up a committee to select qualified and worthy students who would really benefit from the “mini-scholarships.”  So on Tuesday, August 28, the Rev. Fred Morris and his wife, Argentina; Jeannette McDonald, a member of the congregation; and the Rev. and Mrs. Gilbert Dawes, from Iowa, who have recently purchased a home in Chame, drove to Chitré to present $1,000 for the university to use to pay the matriculation fees for the students selected.

At a brief ceremony, the Dean of the campus spoke briefly about the program to the 40 students assembled.  Then Jeannette spoke briefly about the concept of “paying it forward,” based on a movie of that name that we recently popular in North America.  She explained that the congregation hopes that the students would, after they have finished their studies and started their careers, remember the needs of others and provide assistance where they can.

Fred Morris spoke, also briefly, explaining that this assistance was not charity, but rather solidarity, as it was an effort of the members of the congregation, all expatriates and all tremendously grateful for the opportunity of living in Panama, to express our solidarity with the peoples of Latin America in their efforts to improve their lives in all ways.  He also encouraged the students to “repay” this assistance later by helping others, with the same spirit of solidarity.

One of the students, a member of the Student Council in Chitré, and a recipient of the aid, responded for the students in thanking Just One Church for this assistance.

Just One Church plans to continue this project each semester and hopes to raise at least $1,500 for the semester that will begin next March.

Anyone wanting to know more about Just One Church and its projects may contact Fred Morris at 6487-0765