A chance to bring hope out of terrible sadness!
It was only two weeks ago that I listened in horror to the story of one of our grade school children being taken by a crocodile. Samuel Manuel was a Grade 5 student at our school and enjoying a cool-off swim after school when a crocodile attacked. Only days later were his remains found and with much sadness the family and community buried him. As I listened to the story, I knew that we had to build a bridge to reinforce the value of Samuel’s life and to bring important help to this community. We had tried to build a bridge before but because of a lack of resources the hanging bridge was poorly constructed and too low to the water so when the rains came, it was taken away. Often terrible circumstances occur to remind of us important things and although we are involved in so many important things out here, there are times when one is reminded of something that should likely be higher on the priority list!
As I shared the situation and the plan with our team, we immediately had much support. Everyone who heard of the situation started to share their ideas and willingness to contribute and Samuel’s family agreed to honor his memory by naming the bridge after him. We received communication from Jeff Leder, a Canadian war veteran who visited Mozambique a few years ago, that he had done this kind of work in various countries and would be willing to assist where possible. I then discussed the project with our mission board chairman Gary Peckham who encouraged me to get the project developed. When Lynn and I travelled to South Africa this past week for medical reasons, I shared the idea of the bridge with Mercy Air’s director Allan Luus, since we needed to get a design and actual quotes on what this may cost. Interestingly, Allan told me that Phillip Kruger, a member in his church, owned a company called Steel Rope and would have ideas. Allan helped organize a meeting and surprize, surprize, Phillip shared how they had been contracted to build a bridge just like ours in Swaziland, but one much bigger. The design was sure to work since it had much engineering input and they would be willing to work with us to define a budget and get the project done.
I returned to the Mercy Air base, bridge-building plans in hand, only to meet up again with Ron and Barb Wayner (the Mercy Air founders and good friends) who are back for a visit from Alaska. As soon as Ron found out about the crisis and the need for a bridge he immediately said, “But I am sure we have some pretty heavy duty cable around here somewhere.” Sure enough, within 20 minutes or so Ron was back inviting me to come see something. There it was, stored in the back recesses of the Mercy Air shed, 58 meters of heavy duty 20mm cable. Allan agreed and they offered this as one of the first donations for the project!
We returned yesterday from South Africa with a rough estimate of around $15,000 to $20,000 for the bridge. At least $1500 of this is already donated in cable from Mercy Air, a South African donor has donated $900 through Love Mozambique South Africa, and a few other smaller donations have already come in totally unsolicited. As I struggle to keep up with the work needed out here, there are periodically those things that one just has to fit in and this is one of them. As if to reinforce the critical importance of this project, just as I was preparing the project proposal this evening, Lynn received a call from our health worker at the school telling us that today another one of our children, 1st Grader Chupicai Joao, was taken by a crocodile. We don’t know many of the details as yet other than that he was crossing the river to return home after lunch. It is hard to describe the desperation and frustration we feel right now. Please keep him and his family in your prayers and please prayerfully consider how you can help us to address this important need.
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