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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The bridge

It is so sad to see tragic accidents that could have been prevented if the people had the means. In 2007 I had learned of heart wrenching story in the mountains of Cebu. There was a lady and her two children who had gone into the abandon mining area to collect scrap metal to sell. They had to cross various places where there were gullies (washouts) in order to come and go from their Barangay. One day as they were on their way home a heavy downpour occurred while they were crossing a low area. It was there they were met by a wall of water in a flashflood that swept all of them to their deaths.

I was between projects having just completed a basketball court so I asked the barangay captain if it would be alright if we made a culvert to make bridge for the people to use. I did not ever want that to happen again. Enthusiastically he said "yes" and soon we were mobilizing materials for the bridge project.

I went to Cebu city to canvas the biggest culverts I could find. Five feet were the largest available. So with the use of my Nissan Frontier and our mini dump truck we were able to haul all the pipes we needed in just two loads. The project needs required that I had at least 12 people working there. This provided much needed income for people who rely on vegetables and fruit sales for their financial sustenance. It gave some young men the first opportunity to work with a cement mixer and in general the people felt happy to be able to have a new experience.

The project was quite fun. For me doing my "bulldozing for Jesus" thing made me so happy. It was a challenge too. It took around a week to ten days to complete the much needed bridge.

As we had lacked materials enjoyed by construction companies like booms and cranes so we had to improvise at every turn. This is another wonderful thing about Filipino's I had discovered. How they can improvise and make a way to do something when there was no apparent way. I learned a lot there too.

One time when I was making a road near a spring I got my bulldozer stuck so deep in the mud that it could no longer move. It was buried all the way to the drivers seat. I had tried everything I knew to get it out. And after about 4 hours I had given up. It was then that I saw the wonderful ingenuity of my friends. I had offered four of them P1000 ($20) each if they could get the bulldozer out. I went to eat some lunch and was gone only a half hour and when I returned to my amazement there was my bulldozer out of the mud and already washed! If I remember correctly I had doubled their reward being so happy to see my baby in good condition.

As I reflect on the bridge project I am truly grateful for the experience. It was inspiring to see the communal effort involved. Though I have never seen the people from that area since the last day I do believe they are grateful and their lives have been improved by this bridge.

More Photos

Lining up the pipes in the center of the gully

I was able to fulfill my childhood dreams of driving there

My friend Scott and I discussing the final cementing details

At the end we had cemented both ends like a funnel

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