One day on August 2006 I was sitting on a bench on Commercial Street in Provincetown, Massachusetts. I was chatting with Rames, my partner Tom’s cousin. We were talking about finding a way to be more involved in improving education in the remote areas of Madagascar. Rames is from Madagascar, and he is working there with his wife Winifred for the U.N. He has been working for a long time in Third World development, especially in Africa. He was telling me all his frustrations working for such a big organization. Everything is so bureaucratic. To spend $10 to buy a bench, a board or a bunch of schoolbooks, one needs authorization from Geneva and this can take months. Meanwhile children write in the sand using their fingers or just stop writing and go back to work in the mines. He was telling me that he wanted to find a way to get money directly to small projects where it was needed, when it was needed. Small projects with a big impact in remote areas where a dollar goes a long way. I found myself telling him that I would help him.
A year later I decided it was time for me to keep my word. I set a goal: to raise $30,000 in four years, and to name this project in honor of my mother (Rosa Ponte): A Bridge of Roses – Un Ponte di Rose. With this project I would have funded a series of little schools in Madagascar to build new classrooms, to buy desks and benches for the existing classrooms.
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 $30,000. But one child at a time and one school at a time is a great way to begin. Every child has the right to learn. This right, that in our countries is taken for granted, in others countries is still a dream.
And so I embarked in this adventure. For four years later I have reached my goal and surpassed. During those four years A Bridge of Roses had raised over $60,000 and supported a lot of little projects.
Each year I spent my vacation hiking the Camino di Santiago, Spain, trekking Di Qui’ Passo’ Francesco, Italy and in 2010 I reached Everest Base Camp, this was the way I raised money. I paid all my expenses but my family and friends sponsored generously these challenges and that money went all to support A Bridge of Roses. And it is now improving the lives of children in Madagascar.