LEAF International | Panama

 Located in David, Panama | Founded 2007 | 250+ youth served ages 7-16

Why Panama? LEAF Executive Director Jennifer was on her way to Australia when her trip was cancelled; however, she had planned to be gone so she reached out to a LEAF Staff member, Bob Applegate, and a recent acquaintance she had met in Rwanda to see if there may be a need for LEAF International partnership in their home of Boquete. Panama has been a journey of extreme successes and of recognizing when a program is complete as people move on in life, and opening doors to other partnerships.

I can see that the music has really changed the kids. They smile and forget their problems. Irma and the Orphanage Staff have been doing physiology reports of the kids. The kids in the music programs show a significant improvement in attitude, behavior, concentration, and working together.”

Professor Ovidio

LEAF International Program Coordinator, Panama

Program Overview

LEAF International Panama began in 2007 working with Casa Hogar Trisker, a government-funded orphanage that looks after 25 to 40 children of all ages from the streets of Panama. Many of these children are orphans, others abandoned by parents too poor to care for them. LEAF International Panama enriches the lives of these impoverished children through music. Our Panama program includes a Music Summer Camp, as well as intensive workshops in music and art.  Youth also have the opportunity to attend music classes at the local university, which provides scholarships for music lessons to dedicated students. The students perform at local public concerts and at the International Boquete Jazz Festival.


Through the project, students gain:

  • Guitar, flute, keyboard skills
  • Latin percussion skills
  • Folk dancing classes
  • Vocal training
  • Experience in reading music
  • Art and jewelry skills
  • Performance experience
  • Increased self esteem
  • Awareness of cultural traditions
  • Leadership skills
Meet Our Teaching Artists

Professor Ovidio, the leading coordinator, is a symphony musician with over 20 years of professional experience connecting youth to music. He teaches at the School of Music at UNACHI (Universidad Autónoma de Chiriqui). Professor Ovido is the founder and director of the UNACHI Symphony as well as the founder of Chiriqui Mariachi Band, and holds degrees in music and education. Panama

Marselino Sanchez is a Ngobe Indian guitarist who teaches guitar in the Panamanian folk rhythms tradition. He works at Café Ruiz coffee processing factory up in the hills, and raises his grand-children. Years ago he suffered a leg injury, and his brother brought him a guitar as a diversion during his extended hospital stay. LEAF International’s Panama program gave him the opportunity to revive his love of music.  

Andrea Arias Fallas is on the team as a Costa Rican professional dancer, as well as other music instructors including Humberto, Pepe Calavera, Professor Edgar Reyes, Gloria Naranjo & Jorge O’Brian Roseman Cajar.


The Program in Action


From music instruments to child sponsorships, our people-centered programs depend on generous givers like you to grow and thrive. Donate today! 100% of your gift goes directly to support music and arts education programs in the country of your choosing.



Want to learn more about our program in Panama? Click the link below to download the 2010 site report with detailed descriptions of the program from the LEAF International team!


LI WEB icon - Panama
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Project Highlights

LI Panama Coordinators moving program to David, Panama
Doing “test” programs to identify best partner
Casa Hogar Trisker program finale!
LI Music Camp October w/ 20 Youth 
Kids Performed at Boquete’s 15th Anniversary for Casa Hogar Trisker
LI Music Saturdays
Music Fieldtrips to David
LI Youth perform at Boquete Jazz Festival for 1st time
LI Summer Music Camp 
[1 month-5 days week-8 classes a day]
Journey of a lifetime!
LEAF Festival October 2009
A group of Casa Hogar Trisker children, the teaching artists, and the Director of the Orphanage came to LEAF. it was the whole group’s first journey outside of Panama! They experienced cultural exchange with LEAF Schools & Streets kids for several days, and performed throughout the festival on multiple stages to hundreds of LEAFers. They were excellent and so proud! 


LI 1st Summer Music Camp
LI moves to Casa Hogar Trisker Orphanage
LEAF Cultural Exchange Team Visits
LI Panama begins at Casa Esperanza led by Gordon Brown
Local musicians trained as teaching artists



Featured Partners

Casa Hogar Trisker Orphanage:Casa Hogar Trisker is a government program founded in September 1994 to take care of hildren of all ages from the streets of Panama. The children often live in fear or learn to consider crime as a normal part of life. The local villagers fundraise to pay for school uniforms, books, toys and equipment for the children. They also try to provide fruit and vegetables for the often malnourished children.

Antonio Singh: organizer of the Boquete Jazz Festival

Global Humanitarian Adventures Inc: GHA serves the world by engaging volunteers in international service work.



Boquete Culture

Boquete is in the northwest Chiriqui region with 20,000 residents. This area hosts the sacred Quetzal bird, revered by Latin American civilizations. The majority of the indigenous groups are the Ngobe Bugle people comprising one of the seven indigenous populations in Panama. They live in The Comarca Reserve outside of Boquete, which is a hard place to live and many suffer from hunger. Their traditional types of work are extinct. The women often make chaquiras, traditional beaded necklaces and chacaras, traditional woven shirts which are both still worn today. Many of the men work in coffee fields. Boquete is also a respite for ex-pats, and host the international Boquete Jazz Festival.