Archive for the ‘Construction’ Category

I wanted to take a moment to personally THANK Bob & Pat Moyle (Amigos de Ninos de Hogar Trisker) for their tireless efforts & support of the Medical Clinic Project for Casa Hogar Trisker.

The Moyles have been working diligently to acquire the final construction permits so that this project can become a reality.

Currently, we have reached another delay… until the current smoke/fire detection system is upgraded to the building standards for the existing facility, we cannot begin new construction…

To expedite this delay, We relocated 2 of our staff members to Boquete to work with the Moyles, the municipality, & the Trisker Board to identify a solution to these additional requirements for construction.

We have also transferred donations for this project to Amigos de Ninos de Hogar Trisker.  Since they will be handling the purchasing of materials, funds will be held in their account at Global Bank in Boquete, Panama until the final permits are granted.
If you have any questions please feel free to email me directly at:
In addition to the International Support received for this project, we would like to THANK a handful of generous local residents, your patience & support are greatly appreciated!Special Thanks also goes to Prestige Custom Builders & the Architectural Office of Rene Bacil for their participation above & beyond our initial needs.

Many Thanks,
d. robert pickett


So, this past weekend the time that I hate came around again, the time when we have to say goodbye to volunteers as they return home or carry on with the next step of their journeys.  And what amazing volunteers these 3 ladies were. I can’t believe they were only here for a little over a week.  But it goes to show, it is not how long you stay or how much time you have to volunteer, it is the attitude you bring with you that will be truly appreciated and leave a lasting impression. And what an impression they made. Attitude? Work Ethic?  Astounding.

But first let me go back to their arrival and share with you just some of the things they got up to during their time here in Panama (well maybe not all of their tales, that is for them to share!). Charyn Pfeuffer, a food, travel and lifestyle journalist from Canada, swapped her Blackberry for a backpack and is aiming to volunteer with 12 community projects in 12 countries over 12 months. We are very proud to be just one step in her volunteer adventures and were very happy to know that for this part of her travels she would be accompanied by Julie and Jen, 2 friends from back home in Canada.

All the ladies arrived safe and well and eager to get started. Actually, that is not exactly true. Charyn arrived and had just recently had her laptop stolen. And there she was smiling brightly and with a simple shrug of the shoulders, “Oh these things happen, you know, it was partly my fault, I didn’t think…anyway I’m so happy and excited to be here, are we going to the orphanage right now?” Like I said.  Amazing. I would have been inconsolable. Or, at the very least, in a real bad mood and not exactly of the attitude to go and volunteer. But with Charyn. No. Positivity beams out of her and nothing was going to sway her mission.

First day at Casa Hogar Trisker with those (heavy) suitcases!

On arrival at “Casa Hogar Trisker”, the local orphanage here in Boquete, the ladies brought with them 3 large suitcases from home. Suitcases full of clothing, toiletries, toothbrushes and toothpaste, diapers and wipes…all those essential items that places like Casa Hogar Trisker have an immediate and constant need for. On their behalf, muchas gracias. Volunteering there myself I know how daunting that first day can be, surrounded by so many children who simply want your attention, to play, learn and have fun. I hope she won’t mind me saying but during the first few minutes there Julie seemed a little taken aback, unsure of exactly what to do with the children, perhaps not having been round young children in such numbers or situations before.  But, knowing the wonders of the children there I knew it wouldn’t take long, and sure enough, within the next few minutes there she was romping around and playing horses with several of the younger ones. Their laughter and delight was tangible for all to see, and Julie’s too! Further days were spent playing games, jig-saws, looking at books and then before you know it time’s up. For everyone who volunteers at Casa Hogar Trisker these children will touch your heart and soul and even after spending only a short time there it was difficult for our Canadian friends to say goodbye. In Julie’s own words, “It will be hard to leave them for sure.  Although I did have one pee on me so I won’t miss that, but I will miss being greeted with the hugs and smiles!”  But hopefully it wasn’t a final goodbye. The ladies have stated that they wish to continue their fundraising campaigns for the orphanage. To hear that people have been so touched and want to continue to support an organization even when they are thousands of miles away is always great news and we will be behind you all the way.

Further still, working at Casa Hogar Trisker in the mornings here wasn’t enough for these dedicated ladies. They spent afternoons volunteering with an organization committed to air, water, and food security for indigenous areas.  From Jen’s photograph below you can see they worked hard and got down and dirty in assisting with the construction of smokeless stoves.  This is hard, physical labor and again the ladies gave it their all. I’m sure they will have found muscles they never knew about. So, if ever you want a smokeless stove built, or simply desire to talk about cement mixes (who knows what lights your fire, so to speak), you now know who to call!

Some stove action from Jen and Charyn!

Muchas Gracias Charyn, Julie and Jen. We miss you already. Come back and see us soon.

Caroline Walker

TVR Volunteer Coordinator

With the start of the new year, has come the start of an incredible journey.

2011 has been an incredible year for us, our volunteers, our partnering organizations, & the communities in which we have been working.

Since the beginning of January, we have had the pleasure of working with@ 60 new volunteers!

To start the year, we hosted students from the College of Saint Rose, from Albany, NY.  They have since contacted us to add us as an accredited program for their students; I think that was a pretty successful week!  Their service project was a summer camp of sorts for the Casa Hogar Trisker Children’s Home.

College of Saint Rose


Our 2nd group of the year came from the Students without Borders Academy out of Canada.  They were our largest group to date with 31!  Add in our staff, and it took a 46’ cargo canoe to get us all to our service location.  We focused on smokeless stoves from Contextual Solutions & 3 new rainwater catchment systems for the indigenous community of Salt Creek.  When the students were asked by their coordinating professor about their experience, the response was humbling.  “They changed our lives, we want to come back & help them.”  In a closing discussion their leader said they’d like to spend a month with us next year instead of just a week!

Students Without Borders Academy


Our 3rd group we welcomed from the Shasta Valley Rotary Club & the Rotary Club of Boquete, Panama.  Rotary was the source of an $11,700 grant, which funded 21 rainwater catchment systems!

Rotary Club Representatives from Boquete, Panama & Shasta Valley, CA.

Our 4th group, came from “The Global Citizen Project”.  Focused on childcare, fund-raising,  & smokeless stoves; this group of women came with a mission!  Follow the rest of Charyn’s mission here.

The Global Citizen Project


We’ve also been blessed by some incredible individuals volunteering with us this year.  One just left, and he’s already coming back in April… see you soon Dave!

Volunteer, Dave Bandes, helping deliver 7 new tanks for clean water!

Now, a little snapshot of some projects…

E. Lee Robinson Medical Clinic:

Many of you are aware that we are building a medical clinic for the Casa Hogar Trisker Children’s Home in Boquete, Panama.  We have had a few delays due to requests for additional permits.  However, our staff is on it & will have every detail in order quickly.  We have chosen to dedicate this facility to the Robinson family of Hillsboro, OR.  In Memory of E. Lee Robinson  (see why here).

21 New Rainwater Catchment Systems:

How do you change the lives of more than 600 people for the next 10-15 years at an average cost of just over $1/person/year?  We thought of one way… deliver & install rainwater catchment systems for indigenous families throughout the Bocas del Toro Region of Panama…  got your interest perked & your toes wet?  then dive in for more (here).

Smokeless Stoves:

Volunteers & supporting organizations have been working hard.  With new commercial stoves made for the Salt Creek School on Isla Bastimentos, & a demonstration for Peace Corps Volunteers in the Bocas del Toro Islands has led to many new request for residential molds & commercial stoves for more schools.  Looks like its going to be a busy year for stove volunteers.  A few benefits of using the smokeless stove: stoves consume smoke before it is released in secondary combustion, burning smokeless reduces respiratory issues for women & children, concentrated heat cooks faster, the thickness of the stove walls reduces the risk of burns, efficiency of fire uses less wood, less wood = reduction in de-forestation, the list could go on.

Smokeless Stove from Contextual Solutions, (Africa Prototype)

Books from Ben:

How do you get a child excited about reading?  In the Bocas del Toro region, you just give them a book.  This project distributes & establishes small libraries throughout indigenous villages in the Bocas del Toro islands.  Want to know more… then you’ll have to read more  (here)!


Building & Strengthening Relationships:

We have focused on & will continue to, “Prove ourselves, not to sell ourselves.” With new partnerships with the College of Saint Rose, Students without Borders Academy, multiple Rotary clubs, numerous Peace Corps volunteers, a new high school in Panama City, with others currently being cultivated… I’d say we are building a very strong foundation for the days ahead. Want to join “The Volunteer Revolution”?  We welcome all individuals, companies, organizations, & donors who share our fundamentals.

In the news:

Featured cover story for another local paper, The Bocas Breeze  (read more).

The Bocas Breeze Cover Photo


A recent email in response to the water project in coordination with Rotary, Contextual Solutions, & the Peace Corps that we just had to share with the world… “I have been involved with a lot of NGO’s
over the years and one of my great sadnesses is the competition and
ego that I often see, that would make any level of collaboration an
impossibility.  This collaborative effort, however, has brought hope
and joy to my heart.  It took all parts of the puzzle of course, but
TVR’s involvement was central and critical.  TVR’s willingness to do
whatever it took to see this project through has been tireless.  The
attention to the details and behind the scene work has made this
project seamless. .. The commitment and dedication has been
exemplary.  Without the attention to detail, and dedication
to all aspects of this project, this would not have been the success
that we all are sharing in.  A job very well done indeed.”

The Casa Hogar Selma & Herbert Trisker Children’s Home of Boquete, Panama

Construction begins soon!

I first met Randy Robinson on a dock in Maui.  He had hired the boat I was crewing for a whale watching tour, he was wearing a pink shirt, a straw hat, and had @ 10 of his staff members with him.  This was  a company trip for Robinson Construction & the boys were definitely in vacation mode.  I remembering thinking, “oh no, not already…  it’s only 8:30 in the morning…”

However, I was rapidly recruited to join in the festivities & treated like family, literally.  When members of the company asked Randy who I was, he would reply “oh that’s my son, he just flew in from college”.  In true Robinson fashion, I was offered a job before the weekend even ended!

Fast forward a few months & I land at the Portland Intl. Airport courtesy of a ticket purchased by Randy.  A few days later, I traveled with Randy to one of his job sites, & on the way he said “what do you want to do?” (apparently this was my job interview).

Fast forward a few more months & I’m driving a H2 Hummer & managing Randy’s 800 acre ranch in Central Oregon… Not a bad gig!

Fast forward a few more months & I’m sitting at lunch with Randy & he says “I’ve been thinking… we have the ranch, we have boats, we have hunting, we have the equipment… why don’t you really run it as a Sportsman’s Lodge… I wouldn’t need to make anything off of it, just use my stuff & make a business for yourself…”

You see Randy has this uncanny habit of giving people opportunities & seeing what they will do with them.  He’ll open the door (or, in some cases just knock it down) & then see how you walk through it.

I had been wanting to tell Randy about my idea, but hadn’t had the right opportunity.  So, sitting at lunch with an incredible offer just sitting on the table, I began to define what I had been thinking & working on in my spare time, I told Randy about my Volunteer Revolution project.  I could see his wheels turning & after a few moments he responded, “that seems like a pretty cool idea Cpt. Ron (the nickname given to me that early morning in Maui), we’ll support you however we can.”

Family Robinson

From that day forward, Randy would ask how things were going (perhaps, watching to see how I would walk through the door).  Randy & his family not only opened doors for me, they opened their business, their lives & their homes.  They provided me with vehicles, a paycheck, & some of the most incredible weekend trips ever.  From road-trips in the RV to football games, to flying in the helicopter over Central Oregon, to taking a jet boat up the Snake River, to weekends at the lake house, enjoying their corporate box at the Trailblazers games, cruising in the company yacht during the holidays, setting up hunting camps, & listening to Johnny Cash’s “Burning Ring of Fire” on repeat… (listen for yourself) There was one weekend trip that I was fortunate enough NOT to go on… It ended with a voice-mail from Randy, “Cpt. Ron, I’m going to need you to go bail Bob out of jail… stop by office in the morning, I’ll have money for you & Carleen will have your plane ticket.”

Needless to say, my first impression of the guy in the pink shirt & straw hat was pretty much on track.  I just failed to realize how much he would impact my life.

I’ve had some amazing adventures with the Robinson Construction family, but what I value the most are the lessons I learned from watching Randy.

*Open doors for everyone, but let them choose whether or not to walk through them

*Play hard, but WORK harder

*There are no problems, only opportunities to excel

*Respect the intelligence & potential of youth

So, it is with great enthusiasm that we will be dedicating the medical clinic at the Casa Hogar Selma & Herbert Trisker Children’s Home of Boquete, Panama in HONOR of the Robinson Family & MEMORY of Randy’s father, E. Lee Robinson.  In the Robinson spirit, we will open the doors of the medical clinic & provide an opportunity for better health for the children of Casa Hogar Trisker.

E. Lee Robinson (pictured left) Randy Robinson (pictured right)


Randy, from myself, staff, volunteers, & donors THANK YOU for opening doors.  The opportunities you have provided are being & will continue to be realized by countless communities both here in Panama & around the world.


d. robert pickett

Since I moved to Panama full-time over a year & half ago, I’ve had many goals, many dreams, & many focus’.  It is without a doubt that I recently experienced ALL of these in one collaborative project between TVR, the Rotary Club of Boquete, the Shasta Valley Rotary Club, Contextual Solutions,the Students Without Borders Academy, & the Peace Corps.  That’s 5+ organizations working together on 1 project in solidarity!

Project wise, we have supported many initiatives; childcare, education, conservation, disaster response, construction, medical, logistics, etc.  But, this recent project has really forced me to appreciate life’s most basic necessity… H2O.  Water, clean drinkable water.   Personally, I have always enjoyed water… in the form of long, hot showers.  But I have not enjoyed it with the respect & appreciation that it truly deserves.

Splish, Splash!

Very few times in my life have I been out of reach of clean drinking water.  There have been even fewer times in my life that have I turned on a faucet & not had a free-flowing nearly endless supply of water, clean water. The focus of this particular project was to provide access to clean drinking water for those without in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago.  These Caribbean Islands are home to many indigenous communities, communities caught in time.  Around them they see the effects of tourism… the main island of Colon is home to many hotels, restaurants & businesses.  Yet, even here the water isn’t safe to drink.  Bottled water is a must for tourist visiting, but a luxury for the indigenous communities who still call these islands home.  Many of whom earn @ $20/week. Equipped with an $11,700 grant from Rotary, we began purchasing water tanks.  You see, in this particular region fresh, clean water falls from the sky in abundance.  So, why not harvest it!

Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease.*

*Number estimated from statistics in the 2006 United Nations Human Development Report.

Harvesting an abundance of rainwater, turns out to be quite simple.  We worked with Contextual Solutions to design simple catchment systems.  A very basic gutter (in our case, 4″ pvc pipe split down one side & slid onto an existing metal roof), this is then connected to a downspout equipped with a simple gravity filter.   Take a look!

Rain Catchment desing by Contextual Solutions (

Since January, we have delivered 18 water tanks!  We have 3 more getting ready for delivery & another 2 sponsored just yesterday!  This grant from Rotary allowed for 21 new water systems, benefiting more than 600 people in indigenous communities.  That’s just $20/per person total for a project estimated for 10-15 years!  That’s an average of the cost of a bottle of water a year for most of us…

One of the things I have enjoyed most about this project is the sound of the rain… before when I listened to the rain, it meant to stay in bed a little longer.  Now it means that children are getting clean water & living healthier lives.   In the words/lip singing lyrics of Milli Vanilli, we can all  “blame it on the rain”! (watch the video)

I will let the pictures tell the rest…

The mission is to provide safe water for children & their families

46′ dugout canoe for tank transport

Tanks being delivered to the community of Buena Esperanza

Tank foundations being distributed to individual sites…

600 gallon tank on its way into the jungle…

Lots of materials & lots of community help in Rio Oeste Arriba!

Lesson of the day, work smarter, not harder…

Those who will benefit the most, were the most eager to help on Popa II

Let the good times & construction begin…

Jerry from the Boquete Rotary Club preparing a new gutter with a little help.

Who is holding the ladder?!

Rotary Clubs of Boquete & Shasta Valley, CA working together to finish the 5th system of the day!

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain…

GHA volunteer, David Arias, enjoying the benefits of a recent rain shower!

Peace Corps Volunteer, Michelle providing education on the importance & the maintenance of these water systems.

Unsafe water is a thing of the past for the communities we have reached thus far! Help us reach more…

These girls have something to really smile about! (25 persons share the home of the most recent water system installation.)

This project was started by the late Ron Nystrom.  A very special thanks to him for the vision to provide clean water for the most vulnerable.

Special Thanks:

Cynde Nystrom

Rotary Club of Boquete

Shasta Valley Rotary Club

Contextual Solutions

Students without Borders Academy

TVR Volunteers

Peace Corps Volunteers


n. A union of interests, purposes, or sympathies among members of a group; fellowship of responsibilities and interests.  (

I met Sebastián Zulueta about a year ago, the Executive Director for America Solidaria, an organization based out of Santiago, Chile.  It was he who truly helped me understand the meaning of the word.
GHA has had the incredible experience of realizing the benefits of working in solidarity the past few months.  We joined forces on a water project that exemplified it’s meaning.  This project was the combined efforts of;  the Boquete Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of Shasta Valley, Contextual Solutions, GHA, & the Peace Corps.  It was supported by the Students without Borders Academy & local volunteers.
You see, no fewer than 5 organizations worked together to achieve incredible results in record time.
Rotary Club of Boquete – Host club
Shasta Valley Rotary – Funding
Contextual Solutions – Site Evaluation & System Design
Peace Corps – Community Presence, Education, & ongoing support
Global Humanitarian Adventures – Purchasing, Logistics, Follow up, & Volunteers
Student Without Borders Academy – Volunteers
Each organization joined into a union of purpose; a fellowship of responsibilities.  Sound familiar, it should.  It’s the definition of solidarity!

One of my greatest frustrations has been groups or organizations that view their work as some sort of competition.  For those individuals/organizations, I say “join a softball league.”  Remove your egos from the job you’ve been blessed with & the responsibility you’ve been given to serve your neighbor.  There is no room for you in the field that we’re working in.

To say that this project was seamless may be a slight exaggeration, and to say that it was extremely efficient & effective would be an understatement.  5 organizations joined forces & focused on each org’s strengths & responsibilities.   While one organization focused on the finances, another was able to focus on design, while another focused on staging, & yet another focused on the sustainability of the project.  Being able to focus on our individual strengths, strengthened the group.

21 rainwater catchment systems providing access to clean water for more than 600 indigenous in 6 different communities!


SOLIDARITY: ... a union of purpose; a fellowship of responsibilities...

Building blocks for a healthier future!

Students were recently quoted after volunteering with GHA.  The Students without Borders Academy focused their time with GHA working with a smokeless stove project from Contextual Solutions, rain catchment systems for the indigenous community of Salt Creek in the Bocas del Toro Islands, and supporting a medical clinic being constructed for the Casa Hogar Trisker Children’s Home.

I think it’s safe to say that they are already planning their return GHA Experience!

smokeless stove from Contextual Solutions