It is believed that the only thing that exists at the end of the longest of roads is desolation and oblivion. But, from Panama City, one need only take the wheel and head toward some 270 kilometers of paved road to the east, to be amazed at how roads multiply, people open their arms wider, and opportunities grow in fertile soil. Beatriz Schmitt is convinced of this, because she left for the land that is feared by the most cautious of people and came back to the city in love, hopeful, and focused on making Darién the place where people are not afraid to go to work.
Beatriz Schmitt is the national coordinator of the Small Grants Program (SGP) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) coordinated by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). All pomp and circumstance of the acronyms aside, Beatriz is the good stepmother of at least 170 projects backed by the GEF which has paid out $3.7 million in the country since 2006, addressing issues related to the preservation of landscapes and coastlines, responsible agroecology, low-carbon emission power sources, and the environmental handling of chemical products and hazardous waste. Among the requirements she asks for those who want to apply for funding, she has them fill out a form and provide an answer to the question “what is your dream?”