Sustainability and Community
Istmo Retreat is Family Owned and Operated. As a family, we view our retreat center as a vehicle to:
- Inspire ourselves, our clients, our staff, and our community to expand in abundance, creativity, and love.
- Provide the best life possible for our family, one that is embraced by simplicity, kindness, curiosity, and generosity.
- Celebrate Panama, its people, culture and diversity.
- Give back to our community and this beautiful country of Panama that we call home.
Both the owners, Sean and Ayesha, served as Peace Corps Volunteers, Sean in Chile and Ayesha in Paraguay. Our Peace Corps experience was very formative in our outlook to life and to our role within our community. As Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, we learn to first integrate into the community and then help, and “hit and run” approach can cause more harm than benefit. In that spirit, we see ourselves as immigrants to this great country of Panama, and not as expats, we are here to stay, serve, and grow with the country.
Some of the small ways we contribute to our community include:
- Support local farmers, fishermen, artisans, and businesses. You can admire the local carpenter’s work in your rooms, and you can be sure that your food was grown (or fished) within a 50-mile radius of our property.
- Help organize and volunteer on the committee that oversees the local well and potable water distribution system for our community. We have our own well on-site and do not use the water that comes from the local well.
- Hire and train only local staff.
- Provide an educational stipend for the school-aged children of our staff.
- Reduce – keep our environment simple and clean, using only what we need in both our personal lives and retreat center.
- Reuse – creatively reuse items, or donate items that are no longer needed, to community members in need.
- Recycle and Compost as much waste as we can.
- Build relationships with local schools, foster homes, and orphanages so that we may contribute diapers, cleaning supplies, bilingual books, women’s sanitary products, etc. with the money or goods that guests donate, and with a portion of our earnings.
- Organize local beach clean-ups.
- Empower local artisans, fishermen and small businesses by providing them with a platform and income source to share their trade with our guests.
By choosing Istmo Retreat you are contributing towards our efforts in sustainability and community. Ways you may help include, but are not limited to:
- Plan a beach cleanup as one of the group activities. We have had retreat groups do it as a daily community service, and the local residents and fishermen stop them on the walk down to the beach to personally thank them for their efforts!
- Leave donations of diapers, feminine hygiene products, bilingual books, cleaning supplies, clothes, we will happily donate it to the local institution/charity most in need.
- Participate in one of our tours and/or activities that focus on empowering the local culture and history:
- Ask us to provide your group with a visit to the local market followed by a lesson on how to make ceviche.
- Include in your retreat package a visit to the Embera Village, to be guided by the local medicine man and learn the medicinal value of the plants in the area.
- Ask us if either the local plumber, the local basket weaver, the local fishermen, or the local dance teacher, are available to teach you and your group how the water distribution system works (we may even recruit you to help make improvements to the system), how baskets are made, how nets are fixed, or how to dance salsa or tipico (the traditional Panamanian dance) respectively.
- Visit the Panama Canal to learn about the local history that all Panamanians are so proud of.
- Visit the local artisan market and buy the goods that were made here in Panama.
I hope you agree with us, that the value of empowering, integrating, and learning from the community and supporting local businesses goes so much further than a quick, and many times disruptive, hit and run approach to community service.