New Bridges Play Key Role in African Communities

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON (February 21, 2012) – Missionaries in Africa continue to build bridges with the people to whom they are ministering.

Last week, a bridge was completed near the hospital in Karawa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Click here to read more.

On Wednesday a second bridge near the hospital was completed, as was a bridge in Yaounde, Cameroon.

In Cameroon, Ron Ziegelbaur along with others from the community needed just a day to tear down the decking of a dilapidated bridge and build a sturdy one.

The Ziegelbaurs serve at the Rain Forest International School (RFIS), which educates missionary and ex-pat children. The newer bridge spans the road that most students and staff use as they travel to and from the school.

“The area around RFIS is seeing more construction, and that calls for more trucks loaded with sand, gravel, and bricks. Such heavy loads and increased traffic is taking a toll on this bridge (pun intended),” says Janet Ziegelbaur.

“It’s gotten so that nearly every day a car or truck has difficulty crossing – boards break, the support boards underneath bunch up, and it has become quite dangerous to cross,” Janet says. “Parents and staff have been advised to take a different, less-convenient route to school.”

The RFIS administration initiated the project by calling an influential member of the village who got the community involved. “The whole community recognizes the value of rebuilding the bridge and appreciates Ron’s engineering expertise,” Janet says.

Ron’s duties at the school include serving as director of technical services and teaching carpentry.

A community member donated a tree, and it was cut into boards that each weighed 200 pounds. The boards are three times the size of the original bridge decking.

On Thursday morning, workers from RFIS and missionaries from other organizations along with men from the neighborhood removed the rotting wood from the bridge.

When not working on the bridge, Ron helped direct traffic, to divert stubborn drivers of motorcycle taxis who already had gone around road blocks and a warning signs telling them to keep off the bridge. “He made it quite clear” that they were to not try getting across, says Janet.

A single banana leaf and a piece of metal may have played a pivotal role in making sure the project was done by the end of the day. The welder complained that he could not see due to the brightness of the sun. Janet went looking for a parasol or umbrella to provide needed shade.

Along the way, she met a woman pounding green vegetation in her yard. “We brainstormed a minute and then she picked up a machete to cut a banana leaf to shade the work,” Janet says. “On the way to the banana tree she noticed a piece of metal sheltering her firewood and offered it.”

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