Volunteers from San Jose, Calif-based Rosendin and San Francisco-based Webcor are traveling to Rwanda to help build a footbridge in a small community. Project officials say the structure will connect residents in the African country to “education, health care and economic opportunity.”
Rosendin is working on the project with Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), a non-profit organization with a mission to improve access to healthcare, education and economic opportunities by building footbridges in isolated communities. Rosendin is sending six people, including engineers and a safety coordinater, and Webcor is sending four, including construction managers and an MEP coordinator.
Rosendin developed a relationship with B2P years ago and has had a strong desire to collaborate with them one day, says Beatriz Kim, Rosendin engineering team lead. She says this past June Rosendin’s Senior Vice President Matt Englert moved forward with the B2P partnership to coincide with Rosendin’s 100-year anniversary in 2019. And last January, the National Academy of Construction, where Rosendin’s CEO, Tom Sorley is the current President, donated $59,197 to support the B2P mission.
The volunteer team will all arrive in Kigali, Rwanda on November 9 and spent one night in Kigali. The next day they will drive two hours to the rural site location where they will remain for 13 days before heading home.
Before the Rosendin team arrives, the local Rwandan community and B2P will already have constructed the anchors, foundations, pedestals and ramps for the new Rukurazo Footbridge.
“With the first phase completed, the Rosendin team will build the superstructure starting with the set-up of scaffolding,” says Kim. The team will then work with the local Rwanda community and contractors and begin raising the two bridge towers, setting cable sag, cutting timber decking and crossbeam nailers, and assembling the crossbeam. They will also begin decking and fencing and installing the handrails and site drainage.
“The bridge will be built using mostly locally available materials such as locally harvested wood,” say Kim. “It’s designed to be maintained and repaired by a local team in Rwanda with basic tools and general knowledge on construction methods that they will acquire during the construction process.”
The Rukurazo Footbridge will be 161 ft-long and serve a population of 1,210 from the Rukurazo and Bisika communities. The suspension bridge will span the Miguramo River, which can be extremely dangerous to cross. Even with small amounts of rain it is nearly impassable for more than five months of the year.
“During this time, residents – most of who are subsistence farmers - are cut off from critical resources,” says Kim. “The residents of the Rukurazo and Bisika communities surrounding the future Rukurazo Footbridge location are farmers primarily growing cassava and sweet potatoes. They rely on safe and consistent access to the markets to sell their goods and buy necessary resources for their families.”
Kim says transporting building materials such as towers, cement, cables, wooden planks, and tools to the rural bridge site will be extremely difficult. “This is why we are so thankful that we will have the help of local community members who are very familiar with the site,” she says.
The overall project cost which includes bridge cost and travel expenses is $100,000. There is a fundraising page for the travel expenses, and Rosendin is taking care of all other building expenses. The Santa Clara Valley NECA Chapter recently donated more than $10,000 to the cause, while Hensel Phelps donated $2,000. The fundraising page can be found at: https://donate.bridgestoprosperity.org/campaign/rosendin-providing-safe-access-for-rwanda-in-2019/c246394