Image of Founders of Club de Ciegos de Colón

(Club founders Alejandro Perez & Jorge MacKay)

Club de Ciegos de Colón was founded in 1965 and is a community for visually disabled individuals in Panamá.

The biggest goal of this community is to demonstrate how visually disabled individuals can accomplish the same tasks as everyday people.

This is done by encouraging all 57 members to be self-sufficient and learn valuable life skills. Cooking, ironing, and fixing broken items instills a measure of independence in club members.

Twelve club members live at the center in Colón because their families can no longer care for them. Since the club can't pay for a full time staff, residents help any way they can.

"Having one or two volunteers or full time workers would make a great difference," says Carlos Clop, the president of Club de Ciegos de Colón.

Besides learning everyday tasks, club members are also taught how to use computers, printers, and the Internet. Luz Maria Gavalo, a club member, instructs both adults and children how to read and type in Braille.

Lack of funding for computers and expensive interpretive software means the club can't meet all of the needs of the blind in Colón.

Funding is a constant struggle for Club de Ciegos de Colón. The president, Carlos Clop, constantly lobbies the government and companies for funding. He has big plans for the community:

  • Transportation for medical emergencies and to bring community members to and from the center.
  • Computers for educational activities for both adults and children.
  • Women's Quarters are needed to house the increasing number of visually disabled women.

Despite the challenges, Club de Ciegos de Colón remains devoted to providing a space for visually disabled individuals. Members are motivated to search for jobs by using the skills they've learned within the club.

"If there's one thing I've learned from being here, it's that we're all the same," says Rigoberto Wells, a club member. "We're all people."

Click on the thumbnails below to view us at Club de Ciegos de Colón: