When a project reaches completion, we have a great sense of pride and achievement. For our latest Bridges to Prosperity team of volunteers, it was a once in a lifetime moment and an experience they will remember forever.
Our team of ten volunteers from Knights Brown and Tony Gee, raised funds to reach Uganda and take part in this special challenge. The team worked really hard to complete the bridge on time prior to the official opening ceremony taking place on 23 August. Together, they raised over £17,000 in donations to cover the cost of their travel and in country expenses such as food, accommodation and transport.
The team captured on video the moment local people took their first steps on the completed bridge. Watch the video, along with many more from the build on our YouTube channel.
The team has been back in the UK for a little over a month and has had time to settle back into their lives, and absorb the huge difference they’ve made to a rural community in Uganda. We caught up with them recently to hear what they had to say about their trip.
Jonathan May, graduate engineer and project lead in Uganda: “We were really well looked after the by our hosts on the location. We were in the middle of nowhere. I did start to get a bit bored of the food, but that just makes you realise we have so many choices at home. The warmth and hospitality from our hosts was superb. We had great conversations in the evenings whilst sat around the fire sharing stories and playlists. I was really impressed with how well the team got along on location. Everyone got stuck into the work, tackled issues together and we got things done really quickly.”
Elaine Watford, payroll clerk, took the lead on logistics looking after the essentials like supplies, transport and money. “One of my favourite parts of the trip was passing on some football kits and balls from our local football team, Ringwood Town FC. It meant such a lot to the community to have us there, and the impact the bridge will have on their lives will be immense. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Joseph Palmer, graduate engineer and construction lead on site said: “I have such respect for the Bridges to Prosperity team who coordinate these projects across Africa. Arnold, our man in Uganda was brilliant and looked after us all so well. The local people work so hard.”
Matthew Spiller, project manager and health and safety lead on the project said: “The travel in country took such a long time. You don’t realise just how basic the roads will be and how long you’ll be in the back of a pick up until you’re there being thrown about as the truck makes its way down unmade dirt tracks. It was an amazing experience and our accommodation was basic but great because we were all together on site. We weren’t heading back to a luxury hotel and pool each night, we were there on site with the team and sharing our evenings together.”
Stephanie Younes, graduate engineer and communications lead summed up the experience: “It has definitely been one of the most exciting and interesting three weeks for us all. We all learnt and experienced something new – some of which was harder than expected but all worth it.
We made unique memories, bonded with amazing people and expanded our skill sets massively. We were all working and living outside of our comfort zone one way or another but we got through it together. We all truly learnt what working as part of a team actually means! We all helped and supported each other, and we all had fun and made the most of the trip.”
The team are missing Uganda, the life and the people there. They’ve left behind a fabulous legacy for the communities in Lulwo, Kokohchaya and Riwo, a bridge to bring them together, and help them go about their daily lives with a safe route over the river Bukwo.