Hope is Alive!
The immediate and amazing response by so many of you to the need for a suspension bridge has been overwhelming and encouraging. And we are awaiting news of others who have said they would like to help make this happen. Thank you!
As I mentioned in my last blog, we returned from South Africa with a “rough estimate,” of the costs for a pedestrian bridge, and that is still all we have until we can get the final design done and organize the technical team to get this bridge installed. Today Dave Geerling, John Herbert and Ron Wayner helped me to better survey the likely sites for the installation of a bridge. We first visited the local leaders home but found he was at a funeral for a family member in another village. A community member who I have known for some time, Fernando Gimo, was at the home however and was more than welcome to guide us and review the sites for this bridge. After some bush-whacking and a couple river crossings…doing my best to keep my camera dry and still stay alert for possible crocodiles…, we found four alternative spots. Instead of the 30 to 40 meter distance I had thought we would need to span, it turns out we will likely need to span 55 to 60 meters. This is still very doable, but it will impact on the cost and materials we will need.
The plan at this stage is as follows…
I have been in contact with Allan Luus (CEO of Mercy Air) who will meet with a civil engineer and with Phillip Kruger of Steel Ropes in South Africa to get a design finalized along with quotes. We will then need to coordinate with our shipping and import agents here in Mozambique in order to get a close to final estimate of the total cost involved. I talked to the company (Sol Trading) who truck materials for the mission and they have pledged (for this project) to transport “either for free or at least for very reasonable,” so that is a huge encouragement.
Our SAM Ministries board have approved this project so that we can go ahead as quickly as needed, and this has been enabled by people who support the need for us as a mission to be prepared for these kind of emergencies.
Mercy Air will be fund-raising to enable the Kodiak to fly the technical team to Mozambique to do the actual installation once all is ready.
In the meantime we (here in Mozambique) will source, purchase and import all the needed materials and equipment to make this happen and also start to install any of the foundations and support systems needed to ensure the success of the technical team once they do arrive.
We are working with local leadership and government to ensure all the legal documentation is in-hand to make sure the bridge has official support and authorization. The local community leader has assured me that his letter will be ready this week and that the community is very excited about the blessing this bridge will be to everyone. Besides the children getting to school safely, is the benefit that sick people can get to our clinic as well as to the grinding mill to grind their maize (corn).
While this is all in progress, we are not waiting around! Rick Neufeld our resident “Crocodile Dundee” is working with community leadership to hunt any crocodiles in the areas the children have to cross. Bait has been set and as recent as today a crocodile was hooked. Although it got away, more bait was set and Rick is doing everything he can to protect the children who must cross the river every day so they have a chance for an education.
The awesome news is that we have had an amazing response from numerous donors and churches and around $30,000 has been pledged so far. If you have donated and/or are in the process of donating to this project, please continue to give toward this worth-while project. If more funds come in than are needed, they will be used for the library project and teacher housing that are so desperately needed for our school.