In the Community

2012 is Biggest Year Yet for Bridges to Prosperity Partnership

To date, 24 employees from Flatiron, E.E. Cruz and Turner have helped build two footbridges as part of the Bridges to Prosperity program in Nicaragua and Rwanda. Since Flatiron first partnered with Bridges to Prosperity in 2009, more than 50 employees from Flatiron and E.E. Cruz (plus 9 from Turner) have helped design and build footbridges over dangerous river crossings in rural Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and in 2012, Nicaragua. The bridges built this spring in Nicaragua were the fifth and sixth bridges Flatiron has constructed as part of the program.

Team One: Santa Lucia
Over two weeks in February, the first Bridges to Prosperity team of 2012 assembled, erected and connected a 220-foot suspension bridge over the Rio Pire in Nicaragua. The river, deep in the Chaguite Grande Mountains, swells tremendously during the rainy season, forcing locals to wade through 100 meters of waist-deep water and then risk their lives attempting to swim across the deep, swiftly moving water in the river’s center. Two hundred people are expected to use the new bridge each day.

photo of the Bridges to Prosperity team of 2012 on a 220-foot suspension bridge over the Rio Pire in Nicaragua they assembled, erected and connected“The opening ceremony was a highlight of the trip,” said Flatiron’s Dee Ann Isaacs, safety manager on the project. “It was so satisfying to watch everyone come down to see the bridge and be so incredibly thankful. This is one of the best decisions I’ve made, to go see how other people live and do something good for other people.”

“It was an experience of a lifetime,” said Jim Honaker, superintendent with Flatiron and logistics coordinator on the project. “Volunteering and building something that will help so many people—it will stay with you the rest of your life. I will always remember seeing the smiles on the local people’s faces when they walked across the Santa Lucia Bridge for the first time.”

Team Two: El Rodeo
In March, the second B2P team built a much-needed footbridge in El Rodeo, Nicaragua, a remote, rural community of approximately
one thousand people. In the rainy season the El Rodeo swells to a six-foot deep, 40-foot wide raging river, cutting off access to
schools, doctors and the tobacco farms where many people work.

This project was the first to fully implement a new safety plan developed by Flatiron with Bridges to Prosperity. Flatiron corporate facilities manager Walter Maxson was the safety manager on the project and he helped implement new protocols for both local workers and employees. Everyone took ownership of the safety on this project including local workers, who were fully involved in daily safety meetings. The new plan will be used on future Bridges to Prosperity projects.

“It was a lot of hard work,” said Walter. “But it helped me think critically about safety. It was challenging, but also very rewarding. It was a trip of a lifetime for me.”  As do most employees who return from Bridges to Prosperity trips, Walter urges others to apply to be a part of the program. “I would encourage anyone who can to volunteer,” added Walter. “It’s a great cause and very gratifying.”

Team Three: Jucuapa Abajo
The final bridge team of 2012 was scheduled to depart this summer, but the trip was pushed back to the fall due to an early start of the rainy season. In Jucuapa, Nicaragua, a remote region of the municipality of Matagalpa, the team will build a 50-meter suspension bridge to serve over 4,000 people in three communities and is expected to be used by 650 people a day.

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