Our Volunteers Prepare for 64m Bridges to Prosperity Build in Uganda
05 August 2019 | Kate Cusack
Our team of ten volunteers from Knights Brown and Tony Gee is heading to Uganda on 9 August 2019, to work on our fourth Bridges to Prosperity project together. They will be completing the build of a 64m suspended footbridge across the Bukwo river in Uganda. The area is a natural crossing point for the local people from three villages, Lulwo, Kokopchaya and Riwo, and the river is treacherous.
The Bukwo river is very dangerous to cross when it’s flooded, which on average is 180 days a year. In the last three years 12 people have been badly injured and seven have died trying to cross the river. The team from Knights Brown and Tony Gee will join the Ugandan team already on site, who have already prepared the sub-structure for the Lulwo suspended footbridge each side of the river. Once complete, the bridge will provide safe crossing to the 2,200 people including many children who live in the area.
Working in Uganda
Our team will arrive in Kampala on 10 August after a brief stop in Dubai. They will then make their way to Jinja, a stopover on the way to the bridge build location, which is a full day’s drive over on the eastern border. They’ll be up first thing on Sunday to complete their journey. Beginning work on Monday, they will have just ten days to complete the build of the bridge, adding the suspension, struts and deck to the foundations that the local team has been busy preparing in recent weeks. All being well, the bridge inauguration is planned for 23 August 2019.
Our five volunteers come from a range of different roles and they are all new Bridges to Prosperity. They’ve been busy fundraising to meet their target of £1500 each to fund their flights and in-country expenses such as accommodation, food and vehicles. We have supported their efforts and enabled their fundraising activities, including a Tough Mudder, and the London Bridge Challenge charity walk that saw the team walk 30 miles over 27 pedestrian bridges crossing the Thames earlier this year.
Each of our volunteers has adopted a project-specific role and all have an opposite number at Tony Gee. They share the responsibility of the roles, which include construction manager, project manager, health & safety manager, logistics and communications, and they will work together to prepare and carry out the task well, on time and of course, safely.
Who are the Knights Brown team members?
Elaine Watford is based at our Head Office in Ringwood, working in the accounts team responsible for payroll. Her project role is logistics, making sure everyone and everything is in the right place, at the right time including booking flight tickets, arranging vehicles and visas. During the build, Elaine will take the lead in stocking up on provisions, as well as playing a full part in the construction of the bridge under the instruction of the project lead. Elaine’s daughter is expecting her A Level results during the trip, and as she’s also going away herself, Elaine won’t see her for a full month. She is hoping to have enough phone signal to make a call on results day. Elaine’s luxury item is a mosquito net. Very practical and most likely essential!
Jonathan May is a site engineer with our Southern Division currently based in Alton. He has the role of project lead. Jonathan is impressed by the work carried out so far by the Ugandan team and said: “The techniques they use are quite different to those we use here, but the results look to be just as good. I’m looking forward to getting there and starting work, although a little daunted.” The Ugandan team has been sharing photos over WhatsApp so our team has seen the work and location giving them a bit of an idea of what to expect. It’s remote and there are no made roads. Jonathan’s luxury item is chocolate to keep his energy up.
Matthew Spiller is a project manager in his day job with Knights Brown’s Southern Division and will lead on health and safety on site, making sure that everyone is working safely in what are likely to be quite difficult conditions. It has been very hot recently so hydration will be an important factor. He’s already prepared the H&S manual with his Tony Gee counterpart. Matt will miss his family as it’s the longest time he’ll have ever been away from his wife and three children. Matt’s luxury item is chilli flakes, the essential ingredient to add a bit of heat and flavour to any dish.
Joseph Palmer is a site engineer with the Wales & Energy Division and for the project will be construction lead. He’s the only member of the team to have been to Africa before and spent some time in Zambia while he was at university. Joseph said: “Where we are going is so much more rural than where I was in Zambia, it’s going to be hot and hard work but we can’t wait to see the bridge finished and people walking across it at the end of the project.” Joseph’s sister is getting married on the August bank holiday weekend so he will have to hot-foot it back home once the job is done to not miss out on the celebrations.
Stephanie Younes is a graduate site engineer with the South East Division based at Gatwick and is communications lead. She’ll be making sure everyone in the team contributes to the record of their experience through photos, blogs and videos and will share updates with us back in the UK. The team have a GoPro camera and will post on social media when they can. Stephanie’s luxury item is her hair straighteners, but she knows she’s unlikely to have enough power to use them on site without causing a local blackout. The accommodation is very basic, where they will be sleeping in what are in effect empty houses. When they finish the project, the team have some down time planned sightseeing and staying in a hotel so maybe she’ll get the chance to use them then.
Want to find out more?
We’re looking forward to seeing their work get started and receiving their updates and photos on location. We will share more as we receive them. Keep an eye on our social media channels for updates. In the meantime, the team is keen to top up their fundraising pot. If you can spare a donation, please follow this link to take you to their page and support their brilliant work.