The generosity of a Golden company, coupled with the passion of a Golden resident, has left a family in Nicaragua with somewhere to lay their heads to rest at night.
“Bridges to Community is a charitable organization… And they are looking to improve the social situation in these areas by building homes, schools, and providing education programs,” said Tracy Amies, office manager at HR Pacific and volunteer with Bridges to Community.
Amies left Golden on Jan. 7 of this year, to go to Nicaragua to help build a home for a family who desperately needed one.
“I got involved with them because I am the office manager for HR Pacific. And for every house that HR Pacific builds here, the owner David Ratzlaff, donates the equivalent in financial value to Bridges to Community to put up one house down there,” said Amies.
“So I was looking at their website, and I thought, has anybody ever gone on one of these? And there were two staff that had gone on a trip previously. So I asked if I could go, and Dave was good with it, so that’s how it happened.”
Amies travelled with Chris Ratzlaff, David’s son, to a small community just outside of Nindiri. They, along with a group of other Canadians, spent one week building a house.
“We slept in a schoolhouse on cots, and we used an outhouse, but it was great. It was so much fun. We made so many friends,” said Amies.
Bridges to Community, a secular organization based out of the United States, has been working hard over the past 15 years on community development and disaster relief projects throughout Nicaragua. “Bridges to Community had a goal of building 100 houses in a certain time frame, and we finished house number 100 when we were there, so it was really cool,” said Amies.
“And the move-in ceremony was really moving. The mom and her daughter were standing up, sobbing, and singing in Spanish as a thank you to us for building the house.”
Construction may not be second nature to the Canadians who went down to help out, but that didn’t matter said Amies.
“This was totally new for me. But you don’t need any construction experience to do this. It’s mainly shovelling, moving bricks, that kind of thing,” she said. And members of the local community were always there to help out as well.
“Every single day at the build there were eight little boys, sitting there waiting for us in the morning, And they worked all day long, shovelling concrete, but always smiling.”
The experience was a rewarding and memorable one for Amies, who grew up in the Blaeberry. Aside from a trip to Mexico, she had never seen a community that had to struggle so much for their basic needs.
“These people are living in, basically tin shacks that are nailed together, with dirt floors. When the rainy season comes they just fill up with mud. So there was some culture shock for sure,” she said.
Everyone who participated in the build was given the opportunity to interview someone from the community. And Amies was fortunate to be able to speak with the mayor.
“He was so thrilled about everything, the fact that we were there, and just to be talking to me. He said ‘we are a really rich community because we have water now.’ They were so happy just to have water.
“I realized that we can each have a huge impact on the lives of the Nicaraguan people. Whether it’s through a financial contribution or joining one of the builds, the people of Nicaragua are benefitting from our involvement and it is creating a dramatic improvement in their lives. Our financial contributions and volunteer efforts are making a tangible difference.”
For more information about Bridges to Community and how you can help go to www.bridgestocommunity.org.