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Education provides children with opportunities to escape poverty, gain a voice in their community and experience a better quality of life.

But worldwide, more than 120 million children are unable to attend school. The Alphonse Guaymi Scholarship Fund whishes to contribute their efforts in Panama ellentesque ut porta libero. This Mission was founded in 1917 by the Rev Mortimer Surgeon by placing the 18-year old Ephraim Alphonse among the Valiente Indians as an evangelist and missionary. It is a widely held belief that the Rev Ephraim Alphonse was the founder but there is an entry in the baptism register written by Alphonse that clearly attributes the founding to Mortimer Surgeon.He performed the first baptisms among the Indians and against his signature in the column,there is drawn an index finger with the caption:-“The founder of the Indian Mission”.

Following theological training and acceptance into the Methodist Ministry, Alphonse returned to the Valiente Peninsular, married to Hyacinth Ogilvie and continued the work. His main outreach was through education and the setting up of schools along the coast from Tibobe to Bluefields and beyond. On our arrival in 1970 we found several churches:- Tibobe, Punta Uva (Grape Point), Playa Colorado, Cayo de Paloma (Pigeon Key), Bahia Azul (Bluefields), Coco Key and the main church, Kusapin.

The use of the Indian language was key to the work in that the Indians accepted the Gospel through “the language they heard whilst taking their mother’s milk,” Guaymi. Following our language training in Mexico we had a working knowledge of Spanish. Fortunately for us, most of the men spoke English, though not “English, English”, but Jamaican Patois. This being introduced through the Jamaican workers on the banana plantations in the Province of Bocas del Toro.

Alphonse had translated parts of the Bible into Guaymi, his main work was the hymn and service book,”Himnos de la Vida Cristiana”. This book had 16 psalms, 98 hymns, a catechism and full translations of six services including the “Order of Morning Prayer”. I still have my copy which shows signs of being visited by countless cockroaches who enjoyed the cover’s glue. However, the inside remains intact and has my additions of the music for the hymns, this enabled me to take a lead in singing the hymns unaccompanied by any instruments.

To those going “Ngoborebea” (God go with you), to those remaining “Kgobrerica” God enrich you.

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