Where We Work

We believe that change happens gradually over the long term. Lasting impacts on individuals and communities can be sparked during a Bridges experience but must be sustained afterwards. We hope to inspire a long-term commitment in our communities and volunteers to continue working as agents for change, both locally and globally.

Where We Go

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Dominican Republic

The country of the Dominican Republic is located on the island of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Caribbean, with the largest population. Bridges to Community began working with communities there in 2010.

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Nicaragua

The largest and safest country in Central America, Nicaragua has a population of just over 6 million, and borders both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Bridges to Community has been working with communities in Nicaragua for over 20 years.

Dominican Republic

San Juan, Domincan Republic

The San Juan province is located in the southwest of the Dominican Republic, close to the border with Haiti, and tucked into a beautiful landscape of mountains and rivers.

Our Work in the DR

It is a common misconception that the life for all Dominicans is comfortable and easy– masked behind the luxurious resorts and tourists’ attractions, an abundance of poverty resides. Exposure to extreme poverty and limited access to water, food and education is a reality to many Dominicans.  Continue reading below about our projects and accomplishments.

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More than a third of the Dominican Republic lives in poverty, with the highest incidences of poverty near the Dominican- Haitian border, particularly in the mountainous areas and the lower valleys where there is a high concentration of rural communities.

Isolated from tourism and jobs, their land plagued by deforestation, many are left without a sufficient way to make a living resulting in many adults leaving their families and homes, seeking employment opportunities in other parts of the country or in the United States. The migration of the working age adults causes an immense community drain and leaves many children with little supervision, few role models and financially struggling households.  Fifty-nine percent of these households earn a little over $100 a month according to a study conducted by the Latin American Society of Social Sciences. Growing up in these unstable environments, it is easy for these young people to fall victim to the pitfalls of adolescence.  Problems such as alcoholism, teen pregnancy and child labor exist in these regions of the Dominican Republic.

Bridges to Community began organizing trips to the Dominican Republic in 2012, working to better communities in the southwest province of San Juan near the Haitian border, specifically in the communities of Derrumbadero & Caimonial.  Our programs make a real impact in the lives of Dominicans by helping them access to improved schools, strong youth development programs, better sanitation, and a sustainable environmental plan for the future of their communities.  For example, in 2013 Bridges to Community completed a much needed 2 classroom addition to the existing school in Derrumbadero.  This moved students who were holding classes outside, to be able to study inside no regardless of the weather.  It also made the school eligible to hire 3 new teachers and to be a site for the National College Exam.  In 2014, Bridges to Community completed a one classroom addition to the elementary school in Caimonial.  This allowed an additional 30 students to remain in the community and not have to travel the 3 kilometers to the school in Derrumbadero.  In 2015, Bridges completed a Community Youth Center in Derrumbadero, which includes a library, computer room, and classroom, providing a safe learning and recreational environment for the 1,200 plus youth residing in the area. Prior to the Youth Center, these youth spoke about simply wanting to stay alive and now they are speaking of becoming doctors and lawyers, are taking on leadership roles in their communities and are spearheading community projects. You too can spark a change similar to this by simply taking part in any of the Bridges’ wide range of volunteering projects in the DR, including home repair, reforestation, public health projects and activities involving youth leadership training.

Nicaragua

Siuna, Nicaragua

Located on the Atlantic Ocean side of the country, Siuna is filled with natural beauty and diverse cultural traditions.

Nindiri, Nicaragua

A small municipality located in the larger department of Masaya, Nindiri has prominent indigenous routes and is located close to the capital.

Masaya, Nicaragua

Known for its vibrant festivals and talented artisans, Masaya is located just south of the capital of Managua.

Jinotega, Nicaragua

Mountainous and filled with coffee, Jinotega is located in the north of the country.

Jinotega

Surrounded by cloud forests and tucked in between mountains is the “misty city” of Jinotega, a large province with a small population of only 75,000. Over 90% of the city’s inhabitants work in the livestock and agriculture industry, mostly on small and medium-sized farms, growing coffee, beans, corn, and other vegetables. Jinotega produces over 80% of the country’s coffee exports.

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Historically, Jinotega was inhabited by several indigenous groups, many of whom continue to thrive in areas throughout the large province.  Jinotega was only briefly colonized by the Spanish, who built the first Catholic church there in the 1800’s, later replaced by a Neoclassical cathedral that houses several important pieces of art brought from Spain and Italy. Jinotega also houses the western border of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, a rainforest that stretches over 12,500 miles, making it the second largest rainforest in the Western Hemisphere.

While rich in beauty and history, over 60% of Jinotega families live in extreme poverty. This is in part because many of the farming families do not have access to credit making them susceptible to even subtle changes in climate. For that reason, working with communities on economic development, education, health, and housing can go a long way to creating brighter futures for families.

Masaya

The department of Masaya, about one hour outside of the capital of Nicaragua, Managua, in western Nicaragua, is the smallest department in the country but has the highest population density. With active volcanoes serving as a backdrop to lush forests, beautiful lakes and lagoons, it is not hard to see why Masaya is known as a tourist mecca. However, only a few kilometers outside the bustling city center, you will encounter many of the rural, poverty-stricken communities with which BTC works. Expand below to learn more!

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Masaya’s original settlers were from the Mexican Diriane tribe and were skilled in agriculture and craftsmanship. The Spaniards came to Masaya in 1819, and the area evolved with the mix of these two cultures, resulting in festivals and carnivals that celebrate ancient stories and are filled with colorful dances, as well as beautiful artisanry of handmade wood, leather, ceramic, and stone works of art.

Despite its vibrant traditions, many Masaya residents live in extreme poverty.  Earthquakes and hurricanes as well as downturns in global economies have left many families without secure housing or opportunities. To help alleviate this situation, Bridges to Community has been working with communities for over 15 years on housing, education, health, and agriculture.

Comejen Sector #1: A typical Masaya community

Located 28Km outside Nicaragua’s capitol of Managua, the municipality of Masaya contains 27 rural communities. Comejen, one of the larger rural communities, is divided into four sectors: Comejen #s 1, 2, 3 and 4. Within Comejen #1, the majority of its 1,072 residents are agricultural workers selling their produce at the Masaya market.  Some families also work in artistry and handicrafts, carpentry, food stands, or in textiles to support themselves.

A deeply religious and hardworking community, the citizens of Comejen #1 suffer due to their rural location. The average monthly family income is very low: 31% make the equivalent of $70-140 US, 30% make $140-175 US, and 20% make between $175 and $280. As of February 2016, the monthly basic cost of living is considered to be about $430 per family. Our community assessment has found that 80% of this community does not come close to this standard.  More than 60% of the families within Comejen #1 are living on less than $6 per day. Therefore many of these families can only buy what is absolutely necessary: rice, beans, sugar, oil, and occasionally some type of meat. That is why we need you!!

As with all of our community partnerships, Bridges works with the residents and community leadership to improve the conditions of living for the most vulnerable families. Our process integrates all of the families in the community into decision making and identifying their own difficulties and solutions.

Sign up to be a volunteer on a Bridges trip! As a bridges volunteer, you can help with:

  • Construction of 60 new houses in Comejen 1. At present, nearly 50% of the 200 houses in this community are in poor condition and are in need of reconstruction;
  • Building of two new classroom buildings for the public school to accommodate the growing enrollment of students;
  • Construction of a new health post in Comejen 1. Currently residents must travel between 3 and 8 km to see a doctor;
  • Help to plant shade and fruit trees to improve soil and water conservation.

Nindiri

Nindiri is a municipality located in Nicaragua’s smallest but most densely populated department of Masaya. Made up of over 17 communities, Nindiri is home to more than 48,000 people. Only a short distance from Masaya Volcano National Park, Nindiri itself sits on a volcanic rock foundation formed centuries ago. Today the impressive crater attracts visitors for its beauty and the unique ecosystems it creates. Yet, despite Nindiri’s wealth of natural beauty, many families here live in poverty, often without proper shelter or easy access to clean water. BTC helps to provide these necessities. Expand below to learn more!

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Like much of Masaya, Nindiri has a long and rich connection to its indigenous past—its name comes from the Nahuatl language. Over the centuries, Nindiri’s indigenous past has been woven together with its Spanish Catholic traditions, creating beautiful craftsmanship, lively dances and songs, and holidays honoring its patron saint, Santa Ana.

Despite Nindiri’s rich cultural traditions, however, its past has also been plagued by difficulties in accessing crucial resources such as water, basic housing and sanitation, and economic opportunities, in part due to several hurricanes and earthquakes, as well as economic downturns. To help alleviate this situation, Bridges to Community has been working in Nindiri since 2006 with a focus on housing, education, health and agriculture.

Some typical Nindiri communities are:

San Joaquín

The municipality of Nindiri is located 27 miles outside the capitol city of Managua. San Joaquin, a rural community within Nindiri, is considered to be in a state of severe poverty. With a population of 510, the community of San Joaquin largely relies on agricultural production of crops such as sorghum, peanuts and vegetables. Some residents own their own farms while many rely on wages from temporary positions working as agricultural laborers. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to the potable water system provided in the town, and the overall effect of deforestation has led to a decline in health, with summer heat and dust a constant challenge for the people of this region.

In 2016, a Bridges to Community assessment of San Joaquin found that 80% of houses were in poor condition. This is the most immediate need of the community, for stable and sanitary living conditions. Bridges hopes to reduce the housing deficit from by at least 50% over the next five years. We need volunteers like you to make this possible!!

As with all of our community partnerships, Bridges works with the residents and community leadership to improve the conditions of living for the most vulnerable families. Our process integrates all of the families in the community into decision making and identifying their own difficulties and solutions.

Sign up to be a volunteer on a Bridges trip! As a bridges volunteer, you can help with:

  • Construction of 60 new houses in this community;
  • Construction of 39 latrines for families without this basic necessity;
  • Building of a small pharmacy to ensure the constant availability of essential medicines;
  • Help to provide clean drinking water to every house in the community
  • Contribute to the environmental improvement of the community through training, practical establishment of a small forest nursery, and planting of trees of diverse varieties within the community.

Campuzano

Located 27 kilometers from the capital city of Managua, the municipality of Nindiri contains 17 rural communities and 12 neighborhoods. Campuzano is one of those communities and is considered to be in a state of high poverty. Most community members work seasonally, on farms producing crops such as peanuts and sorghum.  Others some work for local businesses in industrial agriculture or in clothing and textiles, many in the Free Trade Zone. These jobs, while the only sources of income available to the people of Campuzano, provide just enough for most families to afford food and some other basic necessities.

A Bridges to Community assessment found that 175 houses, about 60% of the total number of houses in this community, are in poor condition and are in need of reconstruction. These families are in desperate need of a safe place to live. Volunteers like you can really make a difference!!

Sign up to be a volunteer on a Bridges trip! As a bridges volunteer, you will help with:

  • Construction of 95 new houses in this community. These houses will provide a safe and comfortable home for families without this basic necessity;
  • Building of 40 new latrines;
  • Help to plant shade and fruit trees to improve soil and water conservation.

Siuna

Siuna is located on the eastern side of Nicaragua, closer to the Atlantic Ocean. It is part of one of Nicaragua’s two autonomous regions, the Autonomous Region of the North, or RAAN, making it a unique area to explore in the country for its distinct history, traditions, and ways of life. The capital of Siuna has the same name and is surrounded by over 200 rural communities.

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Siuna is covered in natural forests and rivers, and borders the country’s largest rainforest, the Bosawas Reserve. Its diversity covers more than just its flora and fauna—it also contains a plethora of different ethnicities, from Mayangnas and Miskito Indians, to Afro-Caribbeans, to mestizos. While very diverse, these groups share many traditions and customs, such as a love for baseball, played throughout the region.

Siuna has a unique history in that it was once a large gold mining town.  Starting in the 1800s, several large companies set up shop, providing steady work Siuna residents, but also causing many environmental hazards in the area, such as water contamination. When the companies eventually closed down for various reasons, many Siuna residents were left without jobs or the skills necessary to do other work. This deeply affected the economy in ways that are very evident today.

To help alleviate some of these issues, Bridges to Community has been working in communities throughout Siuna for more than a decade on sustainable projects in education, health, and economic development, including libraries, medical clinics, maternity centers, and schools, that have had important and meaningful effects in the lives of many Siuneños.

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