The Ngäbe-Buglé and their Pintas

The Ngäbe-Buglé are the largest indiginous group of Panama. In 1997 the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca was formed: a demarcated region in which the indigenous group has exclusive land rights and administrative autonomy. But you can find people of the Ngäbe-Buglé all over Panama. And they are easy to recognize as many wear brightly colored traditional dresses. We were very attracted to the geometric design (the "pintas") that decorate their dresses; the triangular and straight-line designs that represent the mountains and rivers that they call home.

We found many local woman selling their work from small stands at markets or stalls set-up along the road. But we were particularly excited to find the Fundación Nuestra Señora del Camino. The Fundación is a non-profit social program specifically serving Ngäbe-Buglé woman. These woman often do not have easy access to hospitals therefore for many years Panama has maintained high rates of maternal and infant mortality. At the Fundación, pregnant Ngäbe-Buglé woman can come to stay during the last stages of their pregnancies to receive care. Education is also a large part of what the organization does and they have classes on topics such as infant care, postpartum care, reproductive health, nutrition, and much more. We were lucky to be able to visit the organization and meet the woman!

The Fundación has a sewing workshop where the woman can work during their stay to produce items for sale to support the organization.

We loved how the woman echoed what they were creating. Pintas were on everything! Even the window curtains! And the woman had their children playing in the workshop while they worked.

We look forward to working with this organization to help them continue to offer their important services to the Ngäbe-Buglé community!