With the footbridge foundations already in place on the shores of Rwanda’s Mwogo River, the Bridges to Prosperity and TT Gives Back team will complete the bridge this month by adding approach ramps, cables, suspenders and decking. Photo courtesy Bridges to Prosperity.
For a second year in a row, we are excited to be partnering with Bridges to Prosperity, the nonprofit organization that helps improve access to healthcare, education and economic opportunities by building footbridges in isolated communities. Following in the footsteps of our 2018 inaugural trip to Panama, this year’s team of 10 Thornton Tomasetti volunteers will travel to Serugeme, Rwanda, to construct a footbridge over the Mwogo River. Since its inception in 2001, Bridges to Prosperity has constructed over 250 footbridges, serving more than 1 million community members throughout the world.
Part of the firm’s TT Gives Back initiative, our international service program offers opportunities for staff to lend their expertise and time to help build essential infrastructure in some of the most disadvantaged regions of the world. The program supports at least one international team service trip per year, which is available to employees across the firm. In addition to creating positive social impact, this type of volunteer work helps develop emerging leaders, contributes to employee recruitment and retention, and builds stronger relationships between staff.
The Rwanda team consists of 10 Thornton Tomasetti staff from 10 offices and across three continents. We will be supported by B2P personnel as well as the local Rwandan Bridge Committee and community members.
“These 10 individuals represent our firm’s values, and serve as an inspiration for all of us to act to create positive social change in the world,” Vice President of Corporate Sustainability Amy Hattan, who oversees the TT Gives Back program, said.
Starting July 15, the team will be constructing a 285-foot (87-meter) suspended bridge over the Mwogo River in the Ruhango district in Southern Province, Rwanda. For the 4,111 residents of the Serugeme and nearby Nyakabuye communities, this footbridge is an important first step in a network of bridges that B2P has planned. For 330 days a year due to flooding, the Mwogo is too dangerous to cross, which means that residents have little to no access to the local Buhanda market; students need to access a crossing 1.5 hours away; and access to health clinics is more than 2.5 hours away.
The local team has constructed the foundations for the bridge on both sides of the river. We will be constructing the cables, suspenders and decking. The bridge will be inaugurated on Friday, July 26.
Meet the team
With a shared passion for food, sports, a sense of adventure, and most importantly a commitment to giving back, we are looking forward to an amazing experience that awaits us in the days ahead.
“It is an honor to be the project lead for this year’s B2P trip to Rwanda,” Associate Principal Leo Fernandez said. “I’ve always wanted to work on a project with a clear and direct social impact, and building this footbridge for the Serugeme community fits that description perfectly. I’m also excited to be leading nine of our engineers to help complete the work safely, on schedule and within budget. We don’t just intend to leave Serugeme a footbridge that will improve people’s daily lives, but also hope to make a lasting connection with the community.”
— Abena Darden, associate, San Francisco, communications lead