Luca's Crossing is now complete! The bridge was completed during the week of January 19 and dedicated on January 24th during a very colorful ceremony. Speeches were given by members of the local community, Bridging the Gap and Africa Exchange, goats were slaughtered and sodas were plenty.
In all the celebration, three things were foremost - the person and life of Luca Harrell, the joy of the surrounding community who will now avoid an otherwise sometimes treacherous river crossing, and the honor we have of working with partners and communities to bring about positive development.
Here are the promissed pictures:
The New Year provides a natural opportunity for reflection. Here is a brief "Impact Report" of activities since our last profile update in 2010. Enjoy!
Our long-standing partnership with Bridging the Gap Africa springs into action again as we participate together in a very significant project on the Talek River in the Masai Mara region. The construction of 'Luca's Crossing' is a memorial to the life, creativity and talent of Luca Harrell who left us in October, 2013. Funds from Luca's friends and family together with additional generous support to Africa Exchange's Development Initiatives will enable Masai communities seperated by this frequently flooded river to have safe access to education, healthcare and market commerce.
An innovative design by BTG and the mobilization of efforts and contributions from the surrounding community will ensure that this bridge withstands tree strikes during flooding periods, a problem previously encountered on this river. Three phases of the project are now complete, namely, (1) survey and community mobilization; (2) design and fabrication; (3) anchor and tower installation. The final phase, stringing the bridge and community celebration will take place in late January following the cessation of the short rains.
Many thanks to BTG founder and friend Harmon Parker, engineer Eric Bonet, and site supervisor Sylvester Ouko for their talents and dedication to the process as well as the countless community workers who gather sand, gravel and use their strength as an instrument of progress.
Below are some images of various phases of the process with the promise of more to come:
Thanks to generous support from a valued partner, the community of Kasei will in January inhabit three new classrooms we were privileged to construct with them after the failure of our efforts to bring water to that community. The "before and after" pictures below tell the story.
Among other things this month was a road trip to Beni, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, via Uganda, at the invitation of Congo Initiative. I continue to be amazed at the beauty and abundance of this equatorial region. Seeing piles and piles of timber awaiting transport from DRC to the East, however, left me wondering how long this abundance will last. I share some related reflections here . Sam Harrell
The completion of a permanent church / multipurpose hall to serve the Nakwijit community was heralded by the entire community as a milestone. The moderator of the Baptist Convention of Kenya, Rev. Elijah Wanje, was on hand to officiate at the dedication ceremony.
Our annual seminar this year focused on the teachers at each of our educational units. Teachers are the backbone of these programs and are often the unsung heroes as they daily and together meet the needs of over 600 children across the country. We are so grateful for their dedication and do all we can to help hone their skills and provide support.
We continue our rennovation process at existing ICDC units. The windmill structure at Ulungu (built by others) needed major rennovation which we carried out successfully to enable the children, the community and various projects to have the water they need.
Not all projects are successful. After months of planning, technical surveys, permits and mobilization, our attempts to find water in Kasei through drilling did not bear fruit. We pulled the drilling rig out after two attempts of around 100 meters.
Now we are focusing on other ways to help the community through construction of two classrooms for their Early Childhood Development program that will replace the existing structure that has served them up to this point.
April / May, 2014
Read this reflection from the VP of the Africa Exchange Board of Directors, Beth McMahon, on her recent experience in Kenya.