Penn State Students Empower Rural Communities with Bridges to Prosperity

Students at Penn State are traveling to rural Panama to build a pedestrian bridge for the community of Membrillo. Flooding during the rainy season prevents community members from traveling to school, work, and the market. By building a bridge for the community of Membrillo, the Penn State chapter of Bridges to Prosperity will give them safe access to these necessities.

State College, PA, April 24, 2014 --( Over 750 million people in the world live in poverty in rural areas. In many of these regions, geographical obstacles further perpetuate the cycle of poverty by making walks to school, work, or doctors life-threatening, if not impossible. Bridges to Prosperity aims to reach the following goals through the construction of pedestrian bridges:

· Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
· Achieve universal primary education
· Promote gender equality and empower women
· Reduce child mortality and improve maternal health

Bridges to Prosperity is a national organization that has constructed bridges in over 14 countries. These bridges give communities safe access over rivers and ravines, connecting them to their essential needs. Studies of these communities have shown the following improvements:

· 12% more children fully enrolled in school
· 24% increase in healthcare treatment
· 18% increase in the employment of women
· 15% increase in local business

Currently, the Penn State team is raising finances required for their first project this summer in Panama. The total cost of the bridge is over ten thousand dollars, and while the students have conducted fundraisers on campus, the main source of funds will be a campaign on Indiegogo.

The team of 11 students will be traveling to Membrillo this summer to work with the community members and professionals from the nation Bridges to Prosperity organization. The team has gone through extensive training in order to successfully implement this first project. Ultimately, these students are not giving Membrillo a bridge, they are giving the community an opportunity for future prosperity.
Penn State Bridges to Prosperity
Matthew Malencia