When Home Sinks | God's World News
When Home Gets Soaked
News Shorts
Posted: June 11, 2024
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    Residents from the island of Gardi Sugdub walk to their new homes in Isberyala on Panama’s Caribbean coast on June 5, 2024. About 300 families are moving to the mainland. (AP/Matias Delacroix)
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    Officials move belongings in a boat from Gardi Sugdub Island. (AP/Matias Delacroix)
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    Iker Preciado peers through plastic bags that divide the kitchen from the rest of his grandmother’s home on Gardi Sugdub Island. (AP/Matias Delacroix)
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Once, this spot in Panama was nothing but a field. Now 300 new houses are there. People hang hammocks in doorways.

Why the new settlement? Sea levels rose around the island of Gardi Sugdub. People evacuated, leaving their homes behind. They ferried stoves, gas cylinders, mattresses, and other belongings to their new community, Isberyala.

They quickly saw some differences.

“Here, it’s cooler,” says 73-year-old Augusto Walter. He hung his hammock in a tidy, two-bedroom house with a backyard. “There [on the island] at this time of day, it’s an oven.”

Mr. Walter and his wife will share the government-built house with three other family members.

Around 300 families are moving from tiny Gardi Sugdub. That watery island is one of about 50 populated islands in the Guna Yala territory. Every year, water fills the streets and enters homes. Rising sea levels threaten other communities in Panama too.

Not everyone is leaving the island. About 200 people chose to stay for now.

Augencio Arango is staying. “I prefer to be here,” he says. “It’s more relaxing.” His mother, brother, and grandmother moved to Isberyala. “Honestly, I don’t know why the people want to live there,” he says. “It’s like living in the city, locked up and you can’t leave, and the houses are small.”

Ernesto López thinks the opposite. He moved to the new settlement. “We feel like we’re more comfortable here. There’s more space,” he says from his hammock. “On Gardi Sugdub, we were really squeezed in houses with a lot of people. We didn’t fit anymore and the sea was coming in every year.”

Many of the movers still return to their old homes at night though. Their new homes don’t have electricity or water yet.

By wisdom a house is built. — Proverbs 24:3