Bolivia Bridge Project
AUMC has worked diligently with the people of Quesimpuco, Bolivia for over a decade to establish a school, medical clinic, dormitory and Christian church. The only thing separating others in the area from the benefit of these programs is the Chyanta River. For the people across the river from Quesimpuco, the only access to these services was a pulley system in which they stand in a rickety wire gondola and use the cable to pull themselves across the ravine.
People died every year from trying to cross the river either wading or in the gondola. A footbridge was needed to provide safe access to the neighboring villages. Those across the river could have better access to the medical care and schools, as well as the Gospel that is thriving in the hearts of the people in Quesimpuco. Healthcare workers from Quesimpuco could safely cross the river to extend modern health care to the remote villages which lie on the other side. A bridge would also allow crops to be traded between the neighbors in the valley.
In 2006 a group of village leaders presented the AUMC mission team with a formal request that we help put a bridge in place. Leaders and engineers from AUMC returned in 2007 to see if a bridge was feasible. With the information gathered on that trip the team researched designs and construction methods and settled on a design used by Bridges to Prosperity (B2P). B2P trained an engineer from Servants in Faith and Technology (SIFAT), a mission organization that has worked in Bolivia for decades. SIFAT’s sister organization in Bolivia, CENETEC provided invaluable logistical support.
In March 2008 the site work began on a bridge that was projected to take about two years to complete. Tons of rock would have to be removed from the bridge site to level it and make room for the anchors and towers. 3000 feet of cable weighing over 8000lbs had to be shipped from Atlanta and trucked to Quesimpuco. 22,000lbs of cement, 20,000lbs of sand and thousands of pounds of rebar, clamps and fencing had to be trucked in as well. But that was just the beginning in this very remote place. The bridge site was 3500 feet below and 3 ½ miles away from the end of the road in Quesimpuco. All of the material, over twenty-five tons had to be carried down mountain trails to the site, completely by hand. But there was work to be done in Auburn too. AUMC engineers and SIFAT staff communicated with the SIFAT engineer regularly with a satellite phone, giving encouragement and direction.
The AUMC congregation had work to do, by giving over $ 62,000 to see this project through.
The SIFAT engineer and the Bolivian people worked tirelessly and with the occasional help of the AUMC engineers and short term teams, completed the bridge in just nine months. Now God’s blessings are available to villages on the other side of the Chyanta River via a 400 foot bridge that is a testament to God’s power and love.