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Girl Scout Builds Bathroom for Dominican Village

Two hundred residents of a remote village in the Dominican Republic now have a communal bathroom thanks to the efforts of a local teenage girl seeking her Girl Scout Gold Award.

Elizabeth Rosa of West Caldwell will present her project to the Girl Scout Council of Montclair this week, an important step on the way toward completing the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.

The 15-year-old James Caldwell High Schoolsophomore, however, has gained more than the promise of a Gold Award through witnessing poverty first-hand.

“When I came home, for a week, I would cry when I saw my mattress,” Rosa said, holding back tears talking about the things she used to take for granted.

The village she visited in February during winter break is located between the city of Santiago and the Haitian border. The Spanish-speaking people live mostly in small, one-room structures, sharing a mattress — if they have one — with family members.

Before the bathroom was constructed, villagers utilized the side of a hill that leads to a dry riverbed.

Rain on the island is scarce, and she saw villagers drink water that had been used for bathing. Also scarce is food, and one large meal consisting of mostly rice and beans — and on rare occasions meat — is prepared each day.

The seeds for Rosa’s five-day trip were planted two years ago when for her Silver Award she held three collections for the citizens of the impoverished Caribbean country.

Rosa collected school supplies, shoes and personal hygiene products, which were shipped with help from the Rotary Club of the Caldwells.

Rotarian Mike Kambourakis distributed the items on one of his frequent missions to the Dominican Republic, and he took photographs to show Rosa the fruits of her labor.

“When I got the pictures back,” Rosa said, “I really wanted to go.”

The teenager set out to collect the $1,500 needed to build a concrete structure with two stalls. Her main fundraiser — a Sinatra and Spaghetti night at her family’s Greek Orthodox church in Roseland — yielded the needed funds, and then some. The additional money was used to build 20 showers, as well as buy mattresses, food and other necessities.

To pay for her travel expenses, Rosa saved her babysitting money for two years.

She wired funds ahead of her arrival to get the project started. Two 30-foot-deep pits were dug and a concrete block structure was built around them to create privacy.

Rosa was there for the finishing touches, such as installing a tin roof and painting the building a cheery yellow.

She said the Spanish she has been studying since she was a fourth grader at Washington Schoolcame in handy.

“The most amazing thing of the whole trip was being able to talk to them,” she said.

The trip was so amazing, she’s already planning to return. “I’m thinking the next thing I want to do is build some more houses,” she said.

In June, Rosa will present her project to the congregation at Ss. Nicholas, Constantine and Helen, where she will be presented the Gold Award pin by her priest.

The Montclair Council of the Girl Scouts will nominate Rosa for a “Young Women of Distinction” award, which recognizes 10 outstanding Girl Scout Gold Award projects each year.


Category: DR News |

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Last updated October 26, 2016 at 10:54 PM
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