The President of the Republic of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, delivered, for the first time, the Cecil Haynes Order, in the degree of the Grand Medal of Merit to Melva Elaine Lowe Wilson de Goodin for her positive contributions to the Afro-Panamanian community.
In the picture above: Presidente Laurentino Cortizo, Melva Lowe de Goodin, condecorada y María Inés Castillo, titular del Ministerio de Desarrollo Social
Within the framework of the International Day of People of African Descent, the President of the Republic Laurtentino Cortizo presented for the first time the National Decoration of the Cecil Haynes Order, in the degree of the Great Medal of Merit, to Melva Elaine Lowe Wilson de Goodin for her positive contributions in favor of the Afro-Panamanian population.
Melva Elaine Lowe Wilson of Goodin was born in the former canal zone and is the granddaughter of Jamaican emigrants who worked on the canal construction. After earning her BA from the Connecticut College for Women in the United States in 1968, she completed an MA in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1970.
She was a professor at the University of Zambia in Lusaka and upon her return to Panama she was a professor of English and literature at the University of Panama and designed the English as a Second Language course at Florida State University-Panama.
Together with Gerardo Maloney, Alberto Smith, and Reina Torres de Araúz, he contributed to the movement in favor of Afro-descendants in the country, which led to the opening of the Afro-Antillean Museum. She later founded the Society of Friends of the Afro-Antillean Museum of Panama (SAMAAP) to raise funds and preserve the cultural and literary heritage of Afro-Panamanians and became its first president.
In 1986, she founded the Panamanian branch of Teachers of English for Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and was appointed director of the Department of English at the University of Panama. He has published two textbooks, a history of Afro-Panamanians published in English and Spanish, and a second edition “Afrodescendientes en el Istmo de Panamá” 1501–2012 (People of African descent in Panama, 1501–2012).
“For me it is a satisfaction and an honor to recognize the meritorious life of Lowe de Goodin, the first person to receive this award created by our government in December 2022,” said President Cortizo Cohen.
The Chief Executive stressed that today is also the International Day of People of African Descent, a date established by the United Nations with the purpose of recognizing the extraordinary contributions of people who left Africa to different parts of the world.
“In the particular case of our country, we have much to be thankful for and we are proud of the contributions that Afro-descendants have added as an inheritance to our roots, enriching the multi-ethnic culture that distinguishes Panamanians. The Homeland appreciates your efforts, distinguished Mrs. Melva Lowe de Goodin,” said Cortizo Cohen.
For her part, Mrs. Melva Elaine Lowe Wilson de Goodin thanked the authorities for considering her deserving of this recognition, created in this administration by Executive Decree 15 of December 5, 2022, which is granted for the first time in the country.
Cecil Haynes, son of Afro-Antillean immigrants, born in Gatún, Colón province, in 1913, worked in the Panama Canal since 1928, with an impeccable record of assistance, retiring with 72 years of service in 2000 and this recognition is granted, in honor of the memory of thousands of canal workers and Afro-descendants who with their effort and sacrifice contributed to the economic, social and cultural growth of our country.
The President of the Republic was accompanied by the Minister of Social Development María Inés Castillo, the Administrative Vice Minister of Education Rosa Argüelles, relatives of Professor Lowe Wilson de Goodin and members of Afro-descendant organizations in Panama.