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Westport Students Help Community In Dominican Republic

Students from the "Rhombo" Team pose in front of a health clinic they helped to erect. Students on this team represent schools in Fairfield and Westport. Photo Credit: Contributed
Four Staples High School students (l-r: Nick Moro-senior; Jimmy Ray Stagg- sophomore; Eli Debenham- freshman; Ale Benjamin-junior) take a break from work to spend time with children in the community of La Berma in the Dominican Republic. Photo Credit: Contributed
Emily Castro (Weston High School senior) and Blake Rubin (Staples High School sophomore) gather materials to build a latrine in the Paso de Moca community in the Dominican Republic. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Nearly 80 area high school students from Westport, Norwalk and Fairfield are looking to make a difference in the Dominican Republic.

The students, working as part of Builders Beyond Borders, are doing work on construction projects to help communities with new facilities. More than 200 students, including about 100 from Westport, returned from the Dominican Republic last month in a similar trip. As part of a year-long service program, students spend a week building a health clinic, houses, sanitation facilities and a water supply system, representatives said.

Five teams from the group last month partnered with local organizations, including a Rotary Club, Un Techo Para Mi País, FUNKARST and a local youth group -- across five communities throughout the country to build a health clinic, sanitation facilities, a water supply system and homes.

Three teams will travel to the country in April to complete the remaining three projects. By the end of April, Builders Beyond Borders student and adult volunteers will complete nearly 18,000 hours of community service in the Dominican Republic, representatives said.

Recent projects included collaborating with Green Village Initiative to build community gardens and promote healthy eating among Bridgeport school children; partnering with Al’s Angels to fill food bins for families in need; cleaning up rivers and lakes as a part of Clean Water Day; expanding projects at Wakeman Town Farm; and building a wheelchair ramp with STAR Inc.

"In addition to the direct volunteer services B3 students provide, the Builders Beyond Borders program also offers many leadership opportunities for students," representatives said. "Students participate in programs throughout the year that help build their leadership skills, including the Amigo Program, a mentoring program for new B3 students; the Student Advisor Program, placing senior students as leaders for their individual teams, and the B3 Advisory Board, selecting one student for each team to serve on a board to help guide the organization."

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