Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bridge Builder: Worldwide Organization for Women

It is no longer a dream, and it is about to happen! Dr Todd Stong will be in Nigeria by first week in November to begin the construction of the much awaited Eze river bridge in Ozubulu, in Eastern Nigeria.

Dr Stong, an American and a retired engineer, has volunteered to design and supervise the construction of a 220 ft. long bridge in Anambra state F-O-C (free of charge). The Worldwide Organization for Women (WOW) is the initiator and partly picking the tabs on the $35,000 project.

According to Dr Stong:
The project is a joint effort between the people of the villages at the Eze River near Ozubulu and the Worldwide Organization for Women (WOW), based in Utah, USA. The WOW has been collecting donations this past year to buy in the Delta the 50 tons of timber, bolts and cement to be used in this project. They asked me last December to volunteer to design the bridge and to go to the area to supervise its construction. The villages are to provide the labor for building the bridge, about 50 men a day for 50 days is my estimate.

It is our hope that this bridge will do two things:

Allow 15,000 persons on the north bank to, after 30 years of isolation, reach schools, medical care and markets. And to allow 20,000 persons on the south side to conduct trade with the agricultural goods to come from the north side.

Give an example to other villages across Nigeria and West Africa of how local rural people can solve some of their own infrastructure needs themselves, not needing heavy machinery or special skills. No construction machines will be used to build this bridge. My design can be adapted for shorter and longer distances, as long as the height above the river bottom is less than 30 ft and the desired truck load to pass over such a bridge is set at 2 tons.”
If the volume and tone of the email correspondence on this project is anything to go by, I must say quite a significant number of folks are excited about this undertaking, particularly a sixth grade group of students at Riley School in Salt Lake City USA (Abraham, Jonathan, Rachel J., Francisco, Sebastian, Hamdija, Josh, Etta, Mika, Rachel F., Elizabeth, Sarisha, and their teacher, Mrs. Abe, thank you!),who have magnanimously decided to raise $1,000 for this project.

Many thanks goes to WOW for this unprecedented humanitarian gesture, and of course Dr Stong for undertaking this Herculean task. Also join me in congratulating Todd on the arrival of his 22nd grand-child!

As I mentioned in my mail earlier Todd, our thoughts and prayers will be with you always. Have a safe trip and a fun-filled time in Nigeria.

Related GP posts on Eze river bridge and Dr Stong:
Help Build a Bridge
Dr Stong's Bridge in Anambra