I am so excited to tell you about a wonderful program in which I am again participating. It is called Builders Beyond Borders, or “B3” for short. Builders Beyond Borders provides high school students the opportunity to engage in humanitarian service, strengthen our awareness of diverse cultures, and develop a lifelong commitment to helping others by participating in construction projects to benefit impoverished communities throughout the world.

Last year, I spent ten days in Sonrisa de Dios in Nagarote, Nicaragua building a school. We built a school for the children in the community so that they would not have to walk five miles across a dangerous highway to the closest school. Two years ago, I was in San Antonio de Alao in the Andes mountains in Ecuador building bathrooms and septic systems. The location required us to dig a trench (100+ meters) to connect the pipe to a water supply. These past two years have been the most amazing experiences I have ever been through. Not only did I have so much fun getting to know people from communities around where I live, I got to learn about people outside of Fairfield County. The people of Sonrisa de Dios and San Antonio de Alao were so grateful that we came to their communities. Every time I saw the smiles on their faces, I realized what a difference we had made in their communities. These trips made me realize that I want to continue to make a difference and help people who really need it.

This year, I, along with the 35 other high school students in my group, will spend ten days during February break in the Amerindian community of Wakapau, Guyana, a small country in South America just north of Brazil. Wakapu is a small community made up of 38 islands, and we are staying on the main island, Wypacua. We will be constructing about 3000 feet of sand bridges to connect Wypacua to two other islands, Yarashima and Myrie, where most of the population of the community resides. Wypacua is home to the Health Post for the community and is accessible only by boat or an existing dangerous and narrow footbridge. The bridges we build will allow for a safer and easier passage for all, especially pregnant women, small children, and the elderly. We will also construct a community center that will be a multi-purpose facility which will provide adults and children with health education, tutors, and the opportunity to become literate. It will also host village activities and events.

I am eager for this trip and am really looking forward to connecting with the people in Guyana, and to sharing myself and my labors with them. I am also looking forward to learning about the traditional Arawak culture. I hope that building these bridges will keep the people in this community safe and give them better access to health facilities.

B3 requires more of its participants than just a week and a half in a foreign country. We are required to complete at least 6 hours of community service in our local area before we travel, and are encouraged to do more. I have already worked several hours in Bridgeport, CT. I have helped out with a clean water project to help clean up a local park. Though I have completed 6 hours, I intend to do more.

B3 also requires each participant to raise money through their own work and through fund raising efforts. The $2750 cost per participant covers both travel costs and the cost for the equipment, tools, materials, and engineering plans we will be using on the trip. $1850 of this amount must be in to the organization by November 15, 2011. I have taken every job that has come my way, from baby sitting to yard work to house work, and have put the money towards my trip. I am eager for more opportunities to earn money for the trip, so if anyone has any work available, please let me know (my phone number is above).

One of the greatest ways that B3 meets its funding objectives is through generous donations by the family and friends of participants. Builders Beyond Borders is a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 organization. This means that all donations are tax deductible, and are eligible for corporate matches (for those who have that available to them). I would be very grateful if you would contribute to my efforts with B3, and help fund the expense of my trip to Guyana. Any amount, large or small ($25, $50, $100, or more!), will enable me to improve living conditions that most of us cannot even imagine. Anything you can give will help us achieve our goal of providing these families with basic necessities, such as safety and education.

Please go to the Builders Beyond Borders website (www.BuildersBeyondBorders.org) to learn more about this amazing organization. I really appreciate your support!

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