NEWTOWN, Conn. -- Newtown resident Diana Sarna recently returned from a spending week in Nicaragua, where she helped to build homes for poor families through a program called Bridges to Community.
Sarna traveled to Nicaragua with a group of students and fellow staff members from Fox Lane High School in Bedford, N.Y., where she teaches English. Students raised most of the cost of the trip through a car wash and silent auction, and also received donations from local businesses.
Sarna has been working with Bridges to Community for seven years, traveling to a different location each year. This year, she spent a week in Las Conchitas, a small village with no indoor plumbing or electricity.
"We help local residents build a cement block home for families who have never had a sturdy, dry place to live," she said. "The homes are made of scrap wood with a dirt floor."
Sarna's group helped perform manual labor. "We work side by side with the families who will receive the homes. One day,, I had an 80-year-old woman shoveling and mixing cement alongside me, who was wearing flip-flops and a skirt. I was darned if I was going to slow down," Sarna said.
During their stay, Sarna's group ate traditional meals, such as rice and beans. At night, they slept inside an elementary school cafeteria, on army cots with mosquito nets.
Working through Bridges to Community is a life-changing experience for Sarna. "As a teacher, we never see end products. We see children who are in the process of becoming who they are. Yet, when you build a home, you see the end product and get to meet the family who will benefit. It is an overwhelming joy to be a part of this."
Bridges to Community is an international not-for-profit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of impoverished communities in developing countries through volunteer service trips.
For more information on Bridges to Communities, click here.
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