This year, Julianna, Builders Beyond Borders, and I are traveling to South America, where we will provide our services to Guyana. Most of you probably know Guyana for the Jonestown Massacre, during which Jim Jones convinced roughly 900 Guyanese citizens to commit mass suicide. The massacre happens to be the most popular event known about Guyana because it is such unknown territory—only about 20,000 tourists travel through the country a year.
The Guyanese people have been struggling for many years. Their lack of access to credit loans and, more importantly, business training, has caused 50% of the population to fall into unemployment, with 1/3 of the remaining citizens to hardly have a job. 43% of the country is therefore under the poverty line, and 21% of the people are actually in extreme poverty.
Clearly, the people don’t have a lot, but fortunately that doesn’t keep their spirits down! Reports we have received from the Builders Beyond Borders advisory board—who have traveled to Guyana to explore the projects we will be working on—the people of Guyana are some of the warmest and welcoming people they have ever met. They are as excited to have 40 Americans in their village as we are to be there!
While we do embark on an international trip each year to help underprivileged countries, B3 prides itself in donating 3,000 hours of community service here in Weston, Westport, Fairfield, and Norwalk each year. In fact, we have already begun our community service here at home; last weekend, we volunteered at the Blues, Views, and BBQ Festival in Westport, and soon we will be helping with the Clean Water Project at Bunnells Pond at the Beardsley Zoo, as well as providing service to the Bridgeport School’s Community Gardens on the collective B3 Make a Difference Day. In order to fund our charitable expedition, Jules and I each need to raise $2650, collectively a whopping total of $5300. Our first deadline is November 15th, 2012, at which time we need to have raised $1850 each. We are, of course extremely thankful for any donation you may be able to make. Of course, we understand that the economy is rough, so we really appreciate all of your help in letting us achieve our goals!!
UPDATE: We were finally assigned our mission! Following is the email they sent out regarding Wakapau, Guyana--the village we'll be staying in for 10 days, and the bridges we will be building!
"Wakapau is a small community made up of some 38 smaller islands in the Northwest part of Guyana in an area known as Pomeroon-Supenaam Region. Wakapau is an Amerindian community that is considered to be one of the best examples of Amerindian heritage that has not only preserved the traditional Arawak culture, but also retained its tribal language.
Builders Beyond Borders will work with US Peace Corps volunteer, Lesley Allenby on this project along with the Toshao (village leader), Lloyd Pereira and the community to build several “sand bridges” to connect three of these islands. In addition, we will be constructing a small community center on the island of Wypacua.
Wypacua is home to the Health Post for the community and is accessible only by boat or an existing dangerous, narrow footbridge. The crossing is hazardous for all, especially pregnant women, small children and the elderly. The goal is to connect Wypacua to Yarashima and Myrie, where the majority of the population in Wakapau resides, by constructing new bridges that would allow for safe passage.
The length of measure in Guyana used for construction is a 'rod.' A rod is the equivalent of 12 feet. The bridge from Miri to Wypacua is over 139 rods (almost 1700 feet) while the bridge from Wypacua is some 100 rods (roughly 1200 feet). The bridges will be constructed with wood locally logged and milled and sand from nearby islands.
The community center will be a multi-purpose facility that will be used for literacy and health related issues training as well as after school tutoring and other village activities and events.
While Guyana promises to be another amazing year for Builders Beyond Borders, this particular community assures us that community involvement will be a large part of our experience in Wakapau. Your team will be touched by these families and inspired as we work together with this community to 'build a better world.'"