Building bridges, changing lives: Global teams partner with non-profit to construct footbridges in rural Rwanda, Nicaragua

The global team of volunteers from across the U.S., the UK, Australia, Canada and the United Arab Emirates will be tipping the towers, laying the cables and setting the sag, hanging the suspenders, and installing the decking and fencing on two bridges.

Global transportation employee volunteers from CH2M, a full-service consulting, design, construction and operations firm, will be changing lives this summer when they partner with non-profit Bridges to Prosperity to construct two suspension footbridges: the first in Rwanda and the second in Nicaragua. 

For most of us, crossing bridges in our cars or on foot is done without a second thought. But for those living in rural communities where walking is the most frequent form of travel, not having safe passage to the other side of a river can be life-threatening. And whether it’s access to healthcare, the market, school, worship or work – the need to cross to the other side of a river sometimes can’t be avoided when rivers swell and become treacherous during a rainy season. 

Bridges to Prosperity’s research shows that building a footbridge in a rural community leads to an 18-percent increase in women employed, a 24-percent increase in healthcare treatment and a boost in school enrollment by 12 percent.

CH2M Rwanda volunteers will build a 60-meter suspension bridge in Gasabo-Gasura, Rwanda, where they will live and work for two weeks starting June 8. The bridge will enable residents to cross the Karuruma River, a volatile waterway that prevents farmers from getting crops to market in the rainy season and proves dangerous for children and families traveling to nearby healthcare clinics and schools.

After the Rwanda bridge build, a different team of CH2M volunteers will head to Rancheria, a rural community in Muy Muy, Matagalpa, where they will live and work for two weeks starting Aug. 2. The volunteer team will construct a 50-meter suspension bridge enabling residents to cross the Campasagüa River, giving a community of 350 people access to schools, medical services, transportation, city services and major markets to sell their produce or purchase goods and food for their families.

The global team of volunteers from across the U.S., the UK, Australia, Canada and the United Arab Emirates will be tipping the towers, laying the cables and setting the sag, hanging the suspenders, and installing the decking and fencing on the two bridges. 

Funding for the bridges is provided through a $100,000 CH2M Foundation Grant. CH2M’s Foundation partners with organizations in our operating countries to develop sustainable communities; to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education; and to foster employee engagement.

“What’s unique about our partnership with Bridges to Prosperity is that it gives our employees a unique chance to use their engineering skills in a real, tangible way while making a difference in two communities where footbridges will literally change their way of life,” says CH2M Foundation Executive Director Ellen Sandberg.

“Our work is made possible by the dedicated volunteers that venture far from their home and their comfort zone to work alongside community members in remote locations to create lasting and safe access to essential services,” says Bridges to Prosperity CEO Avery Bang. 

Follow the team journey and the impact these bridge builds are making in Gasura-Gasabo and Rancheria through the team blog

CH2M’s commitment to providing unique volunteer opportunities such as this is one example of the company’s commitment to giving back. If you’re driven to create new ways to answer complex challenges and dream of making a real and lasting impact on your community and the world around you, find out more about what the company has to offer at www.ch2m.com/careers

Share Story

Related links

More Articles