By the Numbers

  • Status
  • Area
  • Cost
  • Dates
    Oct.1, 2022 - Mar. 31, 2023


The area know as the Darien Gap is a dangerous stretch of rainforest along the southern border of Panama. Home to numerous natural hazards, including venomous snakes, jaguars, mosquitoes carrying deadly diseases, and treacherous swamps and rivers, the area is also known for dangerous armed groups who take advantage of desperate migrants trying to cross the gap and continue north. Still, even with all of the life-threatening obstacles, people continue to travel through the Darien gap by foot each day in hopes of a better life.

The Darien Gap is approximately 150 miles south of the Panama Canal.  It is a region of dense tropical jungle, over 100 miles in length, between Panama and Colombia.  This is one of the few remaining stretches of undeveloped land in the region. There are no roads or infrastructure connecting the “gap” between North and South America. The lack of infrastructure and difficult terrain makes crossing the Darien Gap a true life-threatening challenge and a very dangerous undertaking. Migrants who attempt to cross the Darien Gap face several risks, including getting lost, running out of food and water, and falling victim to robbery or violence at the hands of criminal groups operating in the area. 

Crossing the Darien Gap has become one of the most perilous journeys in the world, with many migrants losing their lives in the attempt to migrate to North America.


What work are the Jesuits doing in Panama to help migrants?

In Panama, two international Jesuit networks overlap in a shared effort to respond the the needs of the community and, in particular, migrants. First, Fe y Alegría Panama is the third oldest member of the International Federation of Fe y Alegría which is a popular education movement that works with the underprivileged and excluded to promote to achieve social transformation and improve lives through a network of schools, job training centers, formation institutes, research centers, and radio stations. The original school in Panama dates from 1963 and still exists, however it is no longer part of the international federation of Fe y Alegria since the education system in Panama has been institutionalized and is now run by the government. Today, the mission of Fe y Alegria Panama has transformed to respond to their changing environment. They have three centers to help migrants in Panama, including a women’s shelter and educational facilities and the organization monitors the conditions of migrants who cross the treacherous Darien Gap on their way north from Colombia.

At the same time, Fe y Alegría Panama is also a member of the Jesuit Network with Migrants of Latin Americas an the Caribbean (RJM-LAC).  This international Network of Jesuit works and initiatives accompanies migrants and displaced people, advocates on their behalf, and supports programs across provincial, political, and geographic lines that respond to their needs.  As a member of this network, Fe y Alegría Panama provides insights into the lived reality of migrants moving through Panama and is able to include their stories and their challenges in global


Our Project

Simply put, Fe y Alegría Panama was in desperate need of a new capable vehicle that would allow them to traverse the difficult terrain of the Darien gap to provide services and accompaniment to migrants.  The humanitarian aid, psychosocial assistance, and training on human and migration rights that the team provides are only possible with reliable transportation. 

The purchase of this vehicle is part of a larger project with funds raised through RJM-LAC to support the migrant population who are in transit or are asylum seekers in Panama. This larger project began in February 2022 and continues in 2023. Originally, Fe y Alegría Panama had two vehicles, however one of them, a 2005 Nissan Frontier, was damaged beyond repair. The loss of this vehicle is limiting transportation of the project team to the border provinces.  Fe y Alegría Panama identified a used 2020 Toyota Hilux with low mileage to replace the 2005 Nissan Frontier. 


“We know that God works with the poor and walks with the migrants as well. We are certain that migrants are a theological place as well. God finds ways to help them, to keep their hope alive.”

Fr. Marco Tulio Gomez, S.J. General Director of Fe y Alegría Panamá