Franklin girl looking forward to goodwill trip to Panama




 A Franklin teenager can't wait to get to Panama so she can hand over a water purifier she helped build for residents of the Panamanian Indian community.

    Miya Gossett, 14, is headed to the Central American country the weekend of Feb. 23. She will spend about three weeks there with seven other students and four teachers from the West Chester-based Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School, where she is a high school freshman.

    In addition to turning over the purifier, Gossett will also teach English to residents of the community.

    Gossett, whose parents are both ministers at Free Methodist churches in the area, was visibly excited and enthusiastic about her trip during an interview with the newspaper. She also displayed her purifier to a reporter and photographer at the newspaper offices and proudly put the device together for some pictures.

    "I can't wait to go there," Gossett said. "God is a big part of my life, and he's given me a heart for helping people."

    Gossett, who is taking 11th-grade honors classes at her charter school as a freshman, spent a weekend in Underwood, Ind., last month working with others to build the purifier. She said work on the purifier took half a day and her group did service projects there the rest of the weekend.

    Underwood is home to New Life International, a non-profit organization that provides safe water to thirsty countries by training mission teams and relief workers to develop water purification skills.

    Gossett has been busy since the fall raising money for her efforts. A fashion show and auction earned $600, a concert raised another $400, and an event at Hoss's added $60. She also sold Avon products, received a grant from Youth Alternatives and received $1,000 from a Lions club in Yuma, Ariz., where her grandmother lives.

    A number of Franklin businesses have also given her some money, and she received a grant from an Internet site called that helps people who are doing service projects.

    "I appreciate everything...the community has been great," Gossett said.

    But she said she still needs about $1,500 to really make the project a big success. She said some finishing touches on the purifier have to be completed in Panama, and she also wants to establish a trust fund that would provide money to keep the purifier running after she leaves Panama.

    Gossett stressed the water for the Panamanian Indians isn't good at all, and she said the bad water stunts the residents' growth and greatly lowers their life expectancy.

    Anyone who wants to contribute to Gossett's endeavor can make a donation to a fund called Pure Water to Panama that has been set up at Northwest Savings Bank branches.

    Gossett, who was recommended for the service project by one of her charter school teachers, has lived in Franklin for almost five years, moving here from Colorado. "I like it here," Gossett said.

    Her parents are the Rev. Jerri Walford, pastor of Pine City Free Methodist Church in Clarion County; and the Rev. Frank Walford, pastor of Franklin Free Methodist Church.