Jill and Panama’s first lady help school kids get new glasses


Jill and Panama’s first lady help school kids get new glasses as Biden’s goodwill tour of Latin America continues

  • Jill Biden and Yazmín Colón de Cortizo, First Lady of Panama, visited the local school
  • The school helps children with audio and visual problems
  • This is a special program from de Cortizo
  • Biden is on a goodwill tour of Latin America ahead of the Summit of the Americas
  • Panama is his second stop; she is going to Costa Rica on Saturday

Jill Biden and Yazmín Colón de Cortizo, the first lady of Panama, helped children try on glasses and their new hearing aids during a school visit.

The two women visited the Childhood Home School, which helps children with audio and visual problems. This is part of de Cortizo’s “Seeing and Hearing to Learn” program.

Before their school visit, they had coffee together at the presidential palace, known as Palacio De Las Garzas.

During their nearly hour-long visit, the two first ladies watched students take audio and visual tests, saw a traditional dance performance and met many children.

De Coritzo took charge of showing Biden around the school, showing her where to go, leading her through the classrooms and translating what was happening into English.

She helped administer the visitation tests, pointing to the letters and numbers on the eye chart for the children to read while Biden watched.

In a classroom, they helped two children try on their new glasses.

US First Lady Jill Biden alongside Panama’s First Lady Yazmin Colon de Cortizo puts glasses on a student during her school visit

Jill Biden and Yazmin Colon de Cortizo pose with school children;  Biden pulled a boy in his lap

Jill Biden and Yazmin Colon de Cortizo pose with schoolchildren; Biden pulled a boy in his lap

“Jill, come here,” de Cortizo said, leading her to a little boy and introducing him.

The boy, who looked about 6 or 7 years old, shook hands with Biden. They handed him a bag with glasses in it.

de Cortizo helped him put them on and Biden held up a hand mirror for him to look at.

They then moved in with a girl around the same age.

This time, Biden put on the glasses and de Cortizo held up the mirror.

‘Do you like them?’ Biden asked as de Cortizo repeated what she said in Spanish. The girl nodded.

Before their class visits, Biden and de Cortizo were treated to a traditional dance in the schoolyard. A young girl in a traditional white costume embroidered with blue danced. She wore a gold and white headdress and gold jewelry with a large red flower.

A group of about 20 children awaited them – waving American and Panamanian flags.

“Hola,” they said. “Hola,” Biden replied.

The two women posed for a photo with the children. Children waved their flags as the cameras flashed. Biden pulled a little boy into his lap.

The two first ladies were treated to a dance and posed for a photo with the dancer

The two first ladies were treated to a dance and posed for a photo with the dancer

Panama's First Lady Yazmin Colon de Cortizo gives a student an eye exam as Jill Biden looks on

Panama’s First Lady Yazmin Colon de Cortizo gives a student an eye exam as Jill Biden looks on

US First Lady Jill Biden and Panamanian First Lady Yazmin Colon de Cortizo greet reporters outside the Presidential Palace in Panama City

US First Lady Jill Biden and Panamanian First Lady Yazmin Colon de Cortizo greet reporters outside the Presidential Palace in Panama City

Childhood Home School was founded in 1920 by Bethlemite sisters, according to Jill Biden’s office. The Catholic school welcomes children aged 4 to 12 and is still run by Bethlemite nuns.

It also serves as a refuge for 32 mostly indigenous boys whose parents are from the indigenous Embera community in the province of Darien, on the Panamanian border with Colombia. Students live in school Monday through Friday while their parents work in Panama City and return home on weekends.

Biden arrived in Panama Friday afternoon after a three-day visit to Ecuador. This is the second leg of his three-nation Latin American tour ahead of President Joe Biden’s Summit of the Americas in June in Los Angeles.

The administration is trying to build momentum for the summit but faces boycott threats due to its reluctance to invite Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to attend.

Administration officials note that official invitations have yet to be sent out.

Jill Biden made the soft sell, underscoring the administration’s commitment to the region.

Biden, in remarks Wednesday, underscored the importance of democracy in a region that has no history of it. The three countries she visits – Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica – have all established democracy while neighboring countries have struggled with it.

She will travel to Costa Rica on Saturday.

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