Jesus is Lord - Romans 10: 9
On 2nd June 2012 a group of enthusiastic cyclists rode from Derry/ Londonderry to Donegal Town to raise funds to build a third footbridge in Kenya. Among those facing the challenge were three from Fahan Presbyterian.
FIRST BRIDGE DETAILS:
The word “Galana” means river in the local dialect of the Watta people. The Watta were renowned for being valiant elephant hunters, and for hundreds of years they coexisted with the wildlife within the general area of Tsavo National Park.
However, when the Park was established in 1948, the Watta were forced off their ancestral lands and were told they could no longer hunt elephants by the government. Having no other skills besides hunting, they quickly became marginalized, desperate, and poor.
Thanks to the efforts of an Irish missionary Derek Roulston and a team from the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), this community today has reason to celebrate.
In 2002, Derek with the Ministry of Agriculture started a four year teaching program to instruct the Watta in sustainable farming techniques and assistance in marketing these crops. Their efforts have been extremely successful and prospered the community.
The people of Ireland have provided funding to build a much-needed primary school and health clinic which were completed in 2005. There are now almost four hundred students attending the school with thirteen teachers committed to raising the education standards. The health clinic not only seeks to treat the sick but is also involved in HIV/AIDS education and awareness.
The irrigation has been so successful that fourteen new schemes are being implemented to include one hundred and thirty acres of land. This will enable a large amount of produce to be grown all year round providing food and creating employment in the area.
Unfortunately, there is one problem – the only all-weather road to Malindi and beyond, where their crops would be sold, is only usable for half of the community on one side of the Galana River. The River Galana is wide, and notorious for being infested with large crocodiles and hippos. There are so many sad stories of men, women and children being killed, not to mention many drowning. Derek saw that it was imperative to have a footbridge, so that the community’s work would be sustainable.
Derek heard of Bridging the Gap, which has built over fifty suspended footbridges in Kenya, and contacted the director, Harmon Parker, to ask for their assistance. Once Harmon surveyed the proposed site, he immediately saw that BtG’s standard suspended footbridge design would not be suitable for this great span.
Through a series of connections, Harmon contacted Bridges to Prosperity’s founder, Ken Frantz, to see if B2P would consider partnering with BtG to design this much-needed footbridge. Ken graciously agreed. At Harmon’s request, Chris Rollins, B2Ps board member and professional engineer, traveled to Kenya to survey the Galana site to access the feasibility of the project. Chris confirmed that a suspension bridge was the only option.
At present, the ground has been cleared and the excavations for foundations are being dug. In the meantime, Chris Rollins, along with a team of engineering students from Baylor University, are in the process of designing a footbridge that will be appropriate for this site.
The Galana community is filled with excitement about this footbridge that will enable them to cross this dangerous river safely every day. Bridging the Gap looks forward to building this 112-meter suspension bridge and watching the community prosper. Building Bridges - transforming lives.
SECOND BRIDGE DETAILS
KENYA: Second 'Bridge of Hope' footbridge now impacting peoples' daily lives in Galana!.
Earlier this month, the WHEAT Foundation's 'Bridges of Hope' project completed the construction of a second footbridge across the Galana River.
The Galana River, which is in southeast Kenya, is the country's second longest river and is wide. A host of wild and dangerous animals live in or near the river, including crocodile and hippo.
Over the years, as a result of attacks mainly by crocodile or hippo, many men, women and children have been killed or suffered serious injury whilst wading across the river to get to the other side − needing to cross to go to school, to attend the health clinic, or to set off on the road to Malindi on the coast.
Construction on the bridge, which began in July 2011, was suspended from mid-October 2011 to mid-February 2012 during the rainy season. But with the new suspension footbridge bridge now fully operational, people living nearby, on both sides of the river, for the first time in their lives have a safe (and dry) means of crossing from one side to the other without fear of attack by wild animals.
The locals wish it to be known that they are so thankful to all those in Ireland (and beyond) who generously provided the resources to enable this bridge to be built. They are also grateful to those who helped with its construction, as well as those who faithfully prayed for the project through all its stages!
The location for the new bridge was carefully chosen and now joins the isolated and growing community of Hawewanje, North of the river, with the village of Shakahola, where it is possible to connect with transport to Malindi on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast and then on to other parts of Kenya.
Eddie Dorrans, who has been overseeing the construction, writes:
"It is wonderful to report that an amazing bridge − 'The Bridge of Hope' − is now fully operational over the Galana River, connecting the communities of Shakahola and Hawewanje, and to know how grateful the people are for this 'gift from God'.
It is being used day and daily by motorcycles (usually taxis), bicycles and, of course, pedestrians young and old. People are constantly smiling and saying "Thank you − no more danger from crocodiles and hippos, we are safe!"
With completion of the footbridge, there was a short service of dedication, led by Rev Peter Fleming (Minister of First Coleraine Presbyterian Church), Derek Roulston and Rev Eddie Dorrans. An official opening ceremony and celebration is being planned for later in the year.
This is the second footbridge across the river. The first became operational in 2009.
With two footbridges over the Galana River now in daily use, the project: 'Bridge of Hope' has become 'BRIDGES of Hope' and further funds now being raised to pay for the construction of a THIRD footbridge, which will be located three-hours' walk further along river from the second bridge.
The building of these footbridges has been overseen by the WHEAT Foundation, which Derek and Linda Roulston are also involved in.
“It is also good to report that a very successful well has been dug and a pump installed on the Shackahola side of the river, where the ground is sandy. It is providing clean water for drinking, cooking and washing.
I visited the well a few days ago and was greeted by ladies queuing up at the well with their barrels grinning from ear to ear and shouting: “Asante” (Thank you) ... ”Isn’t God AMAZING!” ... and ... "To GOD be the Glory!”