[Editor’s note: CU Boulder's student chapter of Bridges to Prosperity focuses on building pedestrian bridges over impassable rivers in communities unable to afford them. Students are building bridges this summer in Swaziland and Bolivia – stay tuned for more updates from the teams!]
"Sawubona!" from all of us here on the CUB2P Swaziland Travel Team!
We are having a fabulous time here, full of progress, laughs and challenges. On May 15, the three team leaders -- Davey, Sam and Jay -- arrived and began the task of turning our best laid plans into a best laid reality.
After some time purchasing tools, ironing out logistics and melting into southern Africa, we headed to Swaziland to meet the community and our partners so we could lay out the smooth red carpet for the arrival for the rest of our team.
In Edlangeni, Swaziland, we were met with love and open arms by the area’s Member of Parliament, the mayor and members of the Gama homestead. The Gama homestead, comprising a lovely family unit full of smiles and kindness, have provisioned two of their huts for our team and tools about 1 kilometer from the site.
(Soon a bridge will stand where we are!)
Once we confirmed an ideal status quo on site, we made our way back to Johannesburg and picked up the remaining members of our team, who were full of jet lag, airplane food and excitement. Over the next days we all got acclimated to our new time zones, picked up the final bits we needed for our travels, and set sail for the site.
We made it to the site and soon made ourselves home in our hut, where we will be cozied up for the next few weeks while we work on the bridge. It is just about the best accommodation we could ask for, and we are so grateful for the support we've been receiving from the community. Siyabonga kakhulu, Gamas!
The next day, we made our way to Mbabane to meet with Swaziland Microprojects, who are our in-country partners for this build. We met with the head of the organization, Mr. Mbingo, who was extremely excited that we had returned and were moving forward with our bridge build. Microprojects has been a massive support to us; we could not have made this happen without their assistance!
Finally, with all the logistics finally in line, our team returned to the site and got a darn good night's sleep before our first day of construction. This morning, we awoke to a talkative rooster, picturesque sunrise and grass covered in morning dew; the dawn of our new lives here for the next few weeks.
We made our way to the site with our hoes and pickaxes, with our hearts full and ready to work towards completing our mission here. About 30 community members greeted us, and with many hands we made light work, clearing the brush away from the foundations, collecting rocks and digging a level spot for mixing concrete -- some of the first steps in our bridge construction.
Every day we see school children and community members alike wade across the river to reach where they need; there is no doubt we are in the right place to realize a positive impact. We are honored to be here and are so grateful to our supporters and to be of service to this community.
Davey Levin is rising senior studying applied math, computer science and geography. He will serve as president of the Bridges to Prosperity student chapter for the 2017-18 academic year. Davey is originally from Lexington, Mass.