Today was a very inspiring day, in the morning we got an insight into Bridges to Prosperity from manager Stephanie May, and learned about the organisation. This was followed by a site visit to two of their footbridges. In the afternoon, we visited another school located on the hills of Kigali, with beautiful views and excited high school children.
We started the day with an introduction into the Bridges to Prosperity organisation and a focus of their work in Rwanda. Their mission is to innovate, educate and inspire communities through the impact their work has on the society. By building these footbridges, they create improved access to health services, markets and schools. The footbridges have a profound effect on the community increasing the number of children that enrol in schools by 12%; girls that attend schools by 200% and 30% rise in household income (statistics from Nicaragua). They operated in 20 countries, building over 200 bridges which serve over 1 million people. In Rwanda, they currently completed 29 bridges which are helping over 178,000 Rwandan locals but there is a potential for 350+ bridges that could be built. Their work is extremely impressive – check out their website for more information about their projects… you can even find a workshop about how to built their types of bridges! They are strongly engaging the local communities by allocating local workforce for the construction of the bridge. After the completion, the organisation provides training for members of the district in order to maintain the structure.
The Rwandan team were blown away with their work, as it was the first time hearing about it, especially the impact the have on the local society. This inspired them to work towards helping the community around them and making a difference. They had many questions for Stephanie, related to her career path and how they can get involved. We were happy to see their drive to get involved as this was one of our goals.
The visit to the bridges was made even more interesting as we were able to see more rural areas and meet the people passing around there. The impact could be seen straight away, as many locals were passing the bridges while we visited it. The visit was even more impressive for the Civil Engineering students as they got to see some interesting structures – a suspended and a suspension bridge. Stephanie explained to us the construction process, which takes approximately 2 months. Most of the construction materials are sourced locally, further helping the local economy.
In the afternoon, we attended Kigali Parent’s Secondary School. The school was located on a high hill and had amazing views of Kigali. The workshops were a success as the children were very responsive together with their lecturers which showed their enthusiasm and wish of including this type of workshops is their future teaching lectures.
Overall, we had an amazing day full of inspiring stories, learning about bridges but also meeting the enthusiastic children from the schools. This is the rewarding we get for all the work we did so far and hopefully making your day better!