On the 20th of May, we started on the Ducuale Grande Bridge in Condega, Nicaragua. The community hand dug the foundation excavations prior to our arrival on site. When Dan, the other Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) volunteer on the project, and I surveyed the location and depths, we found that some additional excavation was needed to square up the excavations with the bridge centerline. We adjusted the centerline to use as much of the existing excavations as possible. The excavation for one of the towers had to be completely redone and moved three meters, but six community volunteers completed the new dig in only a few hours!
Condega residents work to move the footing
excavation an additional three meters.
A future in engineering? One of the children who
has been helping to bend rebar at Condega’s
community center looks over his village’s new bridge
The bridge is in the town, and our materials are stored in the community center in the town square—a few minutes’ walk from the bridge site. As the day progresses, people arrive home from work, and more and more eyes watch us work at the community center. Throughout the week, we worked in the square cutting and bending rebar.
Each afternoon, the local children arrive to watch very closely and want to help out. The last half hour of the day becomes a bit chaotic trying to let them "help" safely, but it is good for the kids to have some ownership of the bridge—it will be up to them to maintain it when they are older.
MORE THAN JUST BRIDGES
Carlos, one of the masons on Ducuale, invited two other B2P volunteers and me to his son’s Baptismo Fiesta one afternoon. The fiesta started with a piñata, and I was the one who broke it open. But no one told me (in English), so I was still swinging away as everyone was diving in for the candy! I hit a few people but was assured that someone always gets hit and no one else seemed to think anything was out of the ordinary.
I was also able to visit a program for the children of Condega taught by local teachers that provides classes in painting, computers, handicrafts, dance, cooking, and college prep. They attend it in either the morning or the afternoon when they aren't attending half-day public school. A group of Austrian teachers started the program over 20 years ago, and it continues to be financially supported by their group. It was nice to see how other volunteer groups are working to build this community.
Until next week, Adios!