By Lynn Lagore
The other day, Celestino (one of the health workers) and I needed to pay the mission’s school clinic a visit. We loaded our first aid box (there were a few sick people to see along the way), plus items that needed to be delivered like a health supplies kit and infant formula, and figured we were about ready to head out.
The mission’s primary school and clinic are a 30 minute or so drive from the mission base–a good portion of that being over very bad roads–so if a vehicle is on its way over it usually gets laden with all manner of supplies that have accumulated for several days and are waiting to be taken over. When we mentioned our proposed trip that morning, it didn’t take long to discover we would be hauling several bags of maize plus garden produce for the school feeding program as well.
Once we were loaded to the hilt, we set out for the school. There are 2 access roads to get to the school. The short-cut is 9 km while “long-cut” is 12 km. Trouble is, the bridge on the short-cut burned down last year and navigating through the dry riverbed is a bit tricky. That will need to be fixed in the next few months before the rainy season, we just need the supplies to get the job done. In the meantime, we’ve resorted to using the long-cut. It makes for a lot of nasty bumping over badly eroded dirt roads, but at least we can get to the school!
When we were several kilometers along on this long-cut road, we discovered that a brush fire had just swept through the area and burned the one small bridge down. What had once been a modest but solid little bridge was now a caved in mass of cracked earth and smoldering logs. Now what?
A disconcerting sight: our last remaining access bridge burned down.
What had before been an important task (repairing the bridge on our main route) has suddenly become imperative in order for us to continue to provide for the school, the clinic, and the remote community they serve.
We didn’t need a GPS to recalculate our route just then…we knew we had to resort to the short-cut, tricky river bed crossing.
What we hadn’t counted on was a fallen tree across the road. Thankfully, other vehicles that had come through had flattened out a detour of sorts so we just followed the tire tracks.
Then came the tricky (for me) river bed crossing since I’ve never done it with this vehicle, and heavily loaded at that. It was fairly steep going down the one slope then up the other side. (Of course, things never look as bad in photos as they look in real life!)
Thankfully the vehicle didn’t get hung up or high-centered anywhere, and we didn’t get bogged down in the sand. Once on the other side, it was back to bracing ourselves over countless bumps again. Soon, we arrived at the school and kids swarmed the vehicle, excited to help unload the food they would later enjoy.
After a review of the student health records, some trouble shooting of this and that, more photo taking (’cause I’m always taking photos), a quick look at the school garden and it was time to go.
Then it was bump, bump, bump, then down and up through the ravine again, and bump, bump, bump some more on the way home.
Thankfully, we can still do that for now. Once the torrential summer rains set in though, usually by late November, crossing the river bed will be a thing of the past. So the count-down is on to rebuild the bridge!
Interested in giving toward the rebuilding of the bridge? Click one of the links below.
Canada Helps: “Where Needed Most-Mozambique” CanadaHelps Giving Page