Building Bridges: My work with Bridges to Prosperity

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Performing a needs assessment with Talia, who wants to be an engineer when she grows up. Her wonderful parents and my supervisor gave me permission to mentor her in the field for a day!

I am working as a Bridge Corps Fellow for Bridges to Prosperity for the next 7 months. I spend my time hiking through the mountains to find gorgeous rivers, building bridges (figuratively and guess what? also literally), and watching monkeys break into the office.

So what is it that I do I do besides…Hiking through the bush and mountains to find gorgeous remote rivers on a daily basis, while getting to know passionate and kind heart-ed individuals who inadvertently end up buying me a sprite!?

  • Meet with the district engineers, sub-county chiefs, and other government officials to identify potential footbridge sites as part of a complete nationwide needs assessment.
  • Travel with government officials to site and perform the needs assessment gathering:
    • General information:
      • Local community contacts; ♦ GPS location; ♦Available materials;  ♦ Site accessibility
    • Social information:
      • Number of individuals directly served by potential bridge site; ♦ Occupations and agricultural products of the community; ♦ Map of bridge site including: shape of river, site description, major obstructions, markets, farms, factories, training centers, schools, clinics, hospitals, churches, government services, recreational areas, and other destinations; ♦ Injuries and deaths occurring at river crossing; ♦ Flood duration; ♦ Land ownership; ♦ Current crossing methods
    • Technical information:
      • Meandering, erosion, and obstetrical descriptions ; ♦ Needed bridge span; ♦ Height of each bank, high water level, etc; ♦ Soil classification; ♦ Back-slope; and ♦ Setback.
  • During the hike I get to know the government officials guiding me. They show me schools, talk about the needs of their people, and teach me about their history, local language and customs. Side note – I love the rain, but most Ugandan’s hate it. It rains every day right now, so in the mid afternoon we always end up running for shelter while I drag my feet enjoying the experience.
  • I also try to suggest ways to improve the process. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will get to implement a few of my and my partner’s ideas.

What do I do besides… completely covering myself in mud and getting all the local laborers to chuckle while on the construction site? 

  • Support the program engineer and forepersons
  • Complete all required site documentation
  • Ensure all quality control checks and safety procedures on site are carried out and documented appropriately
  • Exchange ideas, methods, and potential solutions with local engineers and forepersons
  • Participate in labor activities
    • Carrying rocks from the river to fill in the foundations; ♦ Playing tetras with rocks to minimize gaps in stone foundations; ♦ Grouting; ♦Excavation; ♦Get to know the local laborers and laugh with them. Including watching them chuckle as I struggle to participate, while most of the other engineers tend to stand around and watch; ♦ More to come… but I am not on site full time until October

What do I do… besides watching monkeys break into the office in Kampala ?

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Monkeys In Office!

  • I’ll also be working on:
    • Bridge design, estimating, scheduling, and procurment
    • Reporting to the minstrelsy of works and transportation (as part of our partnership)
    • Fingers crossed: improving the decision analysis process for bridge selection or any other mini research project that fits into my wheelhouse
    • Mentoring my favorite kid-os in engineering and mathematics!!!

Note: Opinions are my own and not the views of Bridges to Prosperity.

 

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