This project started in 2006. I was sitting on a bench on Commercial Street in Provincetown, Massachusetts. I was chatting with Winifred, my partner Tom’s cousin, and her husband Rames. They live and work in Madagascar (Africa), and have been working for a long time in Third World development, especially in Africa. We were talking about their experience working for big organizations where everything is so bureaucratic. To spend $10 to buy a bench, a board or a bunch of schoolbooks, one needs to write endless number of forms and wait for months for the approvals. Meanwhile children keep writing in the sand using their fingers or just stop writing altogether and go back to work in the mines. They were telling me the need of small organizations that can support small projects where it was needed, when it was needed. This could have a big impact especially in remote areas. I found myself telling them that I was interested to find a way to create one of these small organizations.
The following year I decided it was time for me to keep my word. I had previously completed two Walks for Hunger in Massachusetts and raised more than $3,500 for the homeless here in Massachusetts, but I wanted to do more.
This is how A Bridge of Roses started.
I chose this name because my mother’s name is Ponte Rosa (Rose Bridge) and I wanted to dedicate this project to her.
I set a goal: to raise $50,000 in four years and I asked Winifred and Rames to be A Bridge of Roses’s field consultants, to find little projects in Madagascar that needed help. I wanted this to be a “from people to people” small and efficient organization.
I deeply believe that education, even if is just a primary one, is the first step in helping to improve and change the condition of the lives of people. It was not my intention to change the world with $50,000. But one child at a time and one school at a time was a great way to begin. Every child has the right to learn. This right, that in our countries is taken for granted, in other countries is still a dream.
To reach my goal of raising $50,000 I decided to undertake four challenges:
- 9 days trek on the camino de Santiago, Spain (2007)
- A trip to Madagascar to visit the projects and to trek through the villages of Zamimaniry. This area in the South of Madagascar has been named a heritage site by UNESCO (2008).
- 10 days trek from Assisi to Rome in Italy (2009).
- 17 days trek to Everest Base Camp (2010).
I paid for all my expenses (travel, gears and stay). And I asked to my family, friends and everyone I knew to sponsor me.
On December 30, 2010 I finished my last challenge and reached not only Everest Base Camp but also my financial goal.
It would not been possible without the help of so many people that donate generously their time, talents and money to this idea that is A Bridge of Roses.