This March, the Shenandoah Valley Academy is gearing up for their annual trip. Fifty-seven students and 13 adults, including parents, professionals and staff members, will be working with the Ngabe Bugle Indians in the Western Highlands of Panama from March 13-25.
“Each year, we go somewhere different,” says Pastor Tim Harley, SVA chaplain. “In past years, we have been to places like Central America, South America and Europe.” Harley has led, organized and participated in the missions since 1998.
He looks at a number of locations and considers a range of factors before making the destination decision. “[The group has] never been to Panama and we are working with another organization, which makes it very helpful to go and makes a lot of the planning easier,” says Harley.
The purpose of this mission is to assist in building a church, a school cafeteria and installing proper bathroom facilities. A medical and dental team will also join the mission, providing free services to the Ngabe Bugle.
Additionally, the SVA students hope to send backpacks filled with school supplies prior to the trip — or even take the goods along with them for the more than 100 Panamanian students Valley kids’ work will benefit.
To meet this goal, the students are asking for the community to step up with donations and other forms of assistance.
“Ten interpreters will be joining us,” explains Harley, “so the students will be interacting with the schools during the day.”
Most of the funds raised for the mission are donated by the families and friends of SVA students who “believe in sending them on mission projects like these because of what it does for their character,” according to Harley.
Andrea Herrera, sophomore from North Carolina states, “I went to help the Maasai people of Kenya, but I was blessed by them because of their amazing happiness in spite of how little they had.”
The academy also participates in disaster relief. During Thanksgiving break this past November, some students went to New Jersey and New York to help areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.
For more information, or to make a donation, contact Pastor Tim Harley at (540) 740-3161 or at the Shenandoah Valley Academy, 234 W. Lee Highway, New Market.