A team of 7 staff led by Jim Ball, President of Reliance Insurance Agencies Ltd. recently returned from a week-long Bridges to Community Canada (BTCC) school building mission from La Guama, Dominican Republic. The group helped build a house and a school and much-needed extension on the La Guama primary school. Bridges To Community is planning to spend the next six months building four classrooms to benefit La Guama’s primary school students.
About La Guama Primary School
In 1956, the first school in La Guama Community was constructed from basic materials: wood, zinc, and palms. Since 1984, this school has had 4 classrooms and, in 2002, Plan International built one bigger classroom used for more than one grade due to the overpopulation of students. However, it has proven through time to not be enough. The school is overcrowded and some children are required to attend a school over 7 km away. As transportation is limited they often walk or hitchhike to attend school.
The La Guama committee members and residents recognized the urgent need for more classrooms and the importance of a good education for the community’s youth. For this reason, they want to make the school their top priority. They have a partnership with Bridges to Community to help achieve this dream for the youth of La Guama.
“If a town wants to grow, develop, and succeed, it must place education first,” said Cedano Angomas, a farmer and community leader. “The new extension will benefit the whole town.”
The school’s director, Altagracia Ramirez, is also excited about the school extension. “To have a decent school has always been their dream,” Ramirez said. The impact will be felt for generations. La Guama’s students will no longer need to be in multi-grade classrooms, allowing them to receive more specialized attention and better education. These advantages will help the community have a brighter future.
About Bridges to Community
Bridges to Community Canada (BTCC) is a non-profit organization that is focused on improving the lives of families in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua in a genuine, long-lasting way. Many members living in the rural communities of both of these countries live in extreme poverty.
In partnership with residents and local leaders, we develop a comprehensive five-year plan in each community, focusing on housing, water and sanitation, education and overall economic development.
The Reliance Insurance Agencies Connection
Jim Ball, the president of Reliance is a founding Bridges to Community Canada board member. Over the years, Jim and his son, Chris (also a member) has made 20 combined house and school building trips to Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, and have raised over $200,000 towards the Bridges vision and goals. “We just returned from another school and house-building mission. It truly is hard but a rewarding contribution. We are so fortunate in Canada, it is such a wonderful project to put our time towards. Over the years we have helped build 270 houses, one library, and two schools. And we will continue to support Bridges to Community Canada to help those less fortunate.” reports Jim Ball.
Each year, Jim, Chris and Reliance staff work for months to put on a Rock the Pacific fundraiser that brings the insurance community together for an evening of fun and a fun way to raise money for those in less privileged circumstances.