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Update from BtGA's, Matthew Bowser, M.A. Sci., PE

We are very pleased to share that the 55-meter span Oltulelei suspension bridge is nearly complete!  
Our Kenyan Team has done an outstanding job and the community is extremely pleased and impressed with their new bridge. Our local bridge crew estimates that there will be over 1,000 people crossing this bridge every week on market day alone. And to emphasize how important this bridge is, heavy rains upstream caused a flash flood in the river... a literal wall of water came barreling down.  It was a sobering experience to watch the power and force of the rushing water.  We stood on the river bank and watched a young boy cross the river while his father had no choice but to turn around to avoid getting swept downstream. It was market day and as we watched, more than 20 people were stuck on the "far side" of the river.  We were later told that there around 80 people who had to spend the night on the far side. The next morning the river finally dropped enough for them to cross. Our local community facilitator found accommodations and dinner for the young boy and he reunited with his father the next day, but it was an intense first-hand view for us of what not only this community, but many other Kenyan communities face as part of daily life in a walking world.
The Oltulelei Community bridge marks a significant milestone for us at BtGA as this is the first bridge in which an active erosion mitigation plan has been developed and implemented. Rapid erosion of river banks is currently a big threat to BtGA footbridges and the problem is often made worse by the movement of livestock on the river banks.  At the Oltulelei site we planted over 5,000 slips of vetiver grass as a bio-engineered system to strengthen the river bank and installed 300m of fencing to keep livestock away from the bridge. In addition, the community hired a full time "bridge keeper" who will be responsible for educating the community about the damage that livestock do when they are permitted to graze and move their animals on the river bank.   
A very sincere thank you to WSP in Canada and all of the 2017 BE A BRIDGE donors for your support in the installation of this bridge! We are also incredibly grateful for all of the logistical support provided to our team by Cottars 1920's Safari's.

A panoramic view of the 55-meter span Oltulelei bridge.

Our Kenyan team carrying the fabricated tower pieces for installation.

From the top of deck to the bottom of the riverbed the distance is 6.4 meters (21 feet).

Débora showing the community workers what mature vetiver plants look like and explaining the many uses for this super grass.
Join Us for our 7th Annual Charity Golf Classic

Registration for the 7th Annual BtGA Golf Classic is open! The event will be hosted by the Polo Golf & Country Club in Cumming, Georgia on Monday, September 24th . Registration will close on Friday, September 21st so please don't delay! 

Announcing our New Logo!

We have some exciting news, we have a new logo! Our goal with the rebranding project was to mark the progression of Bridging the Gap Africa and our new developments in the coming years. We wanted to create a fresh look that reflected our values in a simple, modern and inviting way. It was a pleasure working with  Lighthouse Marketing  on this project! 

You'll start to notice our new look on our social media and promotional materials. Stay tuned!

Message from  the Founder

The reality is this: Bridge building in the bush is not easy work and has many challenges. By the end of the September we will have built three new M-type suspension bridges in regions near the Masai Mara. 

Our BtGA team of bridge builders are experienced and aware of the many issues and dangers of working in the bush, and most of the time we aren't surprised by the difficulties that may come our way. Here are just a few experiences that have happened so far this year:
  • One of our workers somehow encountered a rogue Zebra that kicked him in the face while on his way to work. Don't ask; I don't know how it happened.
  • Another worker was about to get a lecture for being late to work until he told us he encountered a heard of elephants and had to wait for them to meander away.
  • A hippo charged one of our engineers and several workers, chasing them down a path. Fortunately, all scattered to safety!
  • Recently, a lone elephant decided to enter BtGA's camp to eat a late-night snack directly next to a worker's tent. Now that's a scary experience!
I hope to write a book about my 20-plus years of building bridges in the wilds of Africa, but today, I just wanted to share a glimpse of some of the things we have encountered in the first nine months of this year.
Bridges are Beautiful Things but there are challenges and dangers to build them!
Harmon Parker

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