It’s easy to see why those born into a life of abject poverty without access to vital resources and opportunities often feel trapped. These circumstances exist in many places across the globe, but organizations like Bridges to Community (bridgestocommunity.org) are committed to making a lasting, positive difference. Starting in 1992 and continuing to the current day, our dedicated volunteers from around the world travel to economically struggling regions within Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic in order to give much-needed assistance to those caught in the cycle of systemic poverty.
One of the keys to our continued success at fulfilling our mission is our willingness to reach out to village leaders as well as local residents when presenting and implementing our poverty-alleviating strategies. We focus on several main areas that will help to lay a foundation for lasting future economic empowerment. Our aim is to set in motion a five-year program for each local community we assist. These plans target the following areas:
1. Opening Up Educational Opportunities
We believe that an educated community will be a more fulfilled and prosperous community. That’s why one of our emphases is laying the groundwork for making education both feasible and sustainable. One way we accomplish this goal is by building and helping to maintain school buildings, libraries, and youth education centers.
We strive to build eco-friendly, sturdy, and safe educational facilities that will serve to meet the needs of students and educators alike. Once built, the Ministry of Education for each of these regions takes over the responsibility of hiring staff and building upkeep. Another way we help boost education in these impoverished areas is by providing scholarships to students who meet specified community service and academic qualifications. With a chance at higher education, students are far more likely to find a pathway out of poverty.
2. Building and Repairing Housing Facilities
One of the most basic challenges which impoverished people face is lack of adequate housing. That’s why Bridges to Community teams spend plenty of time repairing and building safe homes for residents of the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Our strong, cinder block structures are designed to be hurricane resistant. We meet with local community leaders and families in an effort to identify those who are in the direst need.
3. Promoting Economic Development
One of the most exciting endeavors that our organization undertakes is our economic development program. We create housing projects that include families working together to set up and donate to a community betterment fund. This fund can loan money to those who have ideas for starting new local businesses. We provide training in fund management as well as help local aspiring entrepreneurs decide which businesses are most likely to be successful in their region. We even help new business owners gain the skills required to run their businesses efficiently.
4. Meeting Public Health Needs
One of the reasons why people struggle with poverty is a lack of basic health care in their areas. This ongoing health crisis can lead to high levels of illness and early mortality rates. Our teams work hard to meet basic medical needs, as well as improve local sanitation, hygiene, and water systems for lasting health benefits.
Bridges to Community is dedicated to empowering those in poverty so they can enjoy a better future. We are a group of compassionate people who are putting forth a concerted effort to brighten the lives of Nicaraguan and Dominican Republic citizens both now and for generations to come. Learn more about our regular volunteer trips to both Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic on our website: bridgestocommunity.org.