Hello Everyone! Sorry that it has been so long since we have posted pictures. We have been very busy and have not been able to get a reliable internet connection to upload pictures. Weeks 3 and 4 have been awesome and we have gotten a lot done!
We gained two new members to our team this week, Chris and Corrie. Chris is our B2P technical mentor. He is a Geotechnical Engineer from North Carolina, who is on site to ensure everything is up to the proper standards. He has provided us with tons of assistance and advice, and we have been able to learn a lot from him so far. We have finished pouring the anchors for the bridge and we will set the sag of the cables tomorrow!
After 8 hour work days in the sun, it is incredible that the team is still up for exploring and engaging the people we are living with in the village. These experiences are so rewarding and it is humbling to see how appreciative people here are of our work. Through these experiences we are really able to integrate ourselves in the community and get to know what life is like in Rwanda.
The pictures below give an idea of what the current construction site looks like and what we have been up to when we are not working. Enjoy!
This picture of the approach walls to the bridge was taken about a week ago. The towers on top of the third tier have been completed and the cables are resting in place. The anchor was poured two days ago and we are making quick progress. We are scheduled to set the sag for the cables ttomorrow and after that we will be able to start putting the decking on the bridge.
Adam, Varun, and Mike at the top of the tallest mountain in the area with some of our friends from town who joined us on our hike.
This is Bonheur, and one of his many great facial expressions. We have learned a lot from him about the surrounding area, and I hope we have been able to teach him some cool things too.
One of the many perks of living next to a school is that we can have big basketball games with the students after we are done working. Adam is like a Basketball God to the up and coming players here.
Just your normal day walking back to the site after lunch while all of the school children are on recess. Jocelyn can be found in the back.
Wherever we go you can hear Michael or “Jackie Chan” yelled out by all the children. Mike has a great way with all the kids and knows how to make them all laugh.
Martha along with Mesi and Masinga in the tea field!
Mesi and Masings are always down to play a game of soccer or basketball with us after work.
Another beautiful hike. From the top you can see some of the Virunga volcanoes in the northern part of the country.
Martha showing the kids a new jump rope game.
Charlotte fixing one of our beds after we overloaded it with seven people.
Spontaneous dance party with our friends Abraham, Mimi, and Aristo in our home. Two nights ago we were invited to Abrahams house. It was probably the highlight of of the trip so far for many of us here. We ate a traditional rwandan meal with Abraham’s family and some of the local village leaders. We were able to discuss many topics and issues with Abraham serving as a translator. At the end we all went around and shared our thanks for their incredible hospitality.
Martha, Charlotte, and Eric cutting rebar to build the anchor cages. The cages are now complete and have been secured in place with concrete.
Fabie, John Vier, Martha, and I.
Charlotte and Eric, the best friends!
Jocelyn and Domien
Double Rainbow over our village
Eric and I.
We got to experience Umuganda, which is the last Saturday of every month. It is a day of public work, where everyone over the age of 18 volunteers in their own community from 8am-noon. WE joined in on the day in the village of base where we climbed a mountain with our hoes and shovels and helped to dig trenches that will prevent erosion on the side of the mountain in the future. We worked along side a couple hundred other people. It was pretty amazing to see how willing people were to come out and help for no reward at all, all in the spirit of Umuganda.
Catherine and Martha digging some trenches for Umuganda.
Once the work was completed everyone gathered on the top of the moutain for a community meeting with the leaders of the village. They announced that it was the start of environmental week in Rwanda and proceeded to discuss the best practices to living a more sustainable life.
I had the honor to address everyone during the meeting. I explained what our team was doing in Kinyarwandan and then thanked them for their kindness openess in english and one of the village leaders was able to translate what I had said.
Catherine bending rebar to make the anchor cages.
Corrie and Jocelyn. Corrie joined us last week from Princeton University and will be with us until the end of construction.
I spent the past four days in Kigali with Jocelyn and Michael working at IPRC (Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center) where we helped fabricate many of the steel components needed for a suspension footbridge in Gasura.
Mark helping us weld together some of the steel pieces.
Jocelyn and I
Jocelyn, Mike and I with Lorrean who is the head of the machine shop at IPRC. We were able to learn a lot from him about using shop drawings and fabricating steel.
We have just begun the critical construction phase for the bridge which began with the tower construction. The towers are now completed but they were not easy. Since the cables on the bridge meet the entire foundation at the towers it is very important that everything lines up perfectly. The towers must be exactly parallel with themselves and perpendicular to the center line.
Some of the kids getting involved with the work, helping us paint the crossbeams for the bridge.
Mike and the drill press
Chris and Caroline!
Varun and his new shirt
The cables wrapped around the anchor right before we poured the concrete in to set it in place.