In October 2022, a team of ten Bechtel volunteers partnered with Bridges to Prosperity to construct the Muduha Trailbridge in the Rulindo District of Rwanda. The 52-meter (170-foot) suspension footbridge provides the estimated 800 residents of the Muduha and Gatenderi communities with safe and reliable access to markets, schools, and healthcare located across the Muyanza River.

Every year during rainy season, the Muyanza water raises and floods the plains in the valley, making the river impassable and posing a life-threatening risk to those who attempt to cross it. Before the construction of the footbridge, children were unable to attend school, farmers were unable to sell their produce in the local markets, and the sick were unable to make their way to local healthcare facilities for several months of the year.

Meet the team

Bechtel’s volunteers came from a variety of roles and locations, representing a wide range of engineering, construction, and business talent. They are:

  • Reyam Ibrahim Al Jadder, a construction lead working in Serbia
  • Hussain Alalshikhjaffar, an electrical engineer working in Saudi Arabia
  • Joseph Chuwa, a lead civil engineer working in the U.S.
  • David Hanna, a prime contract engineer working in Serbia
  • Jazmine Hormazábal, a project environmental lead and senior engineer working in Chile
  • David Ivo, a lead turnover engineer working in Chile
  • Abigail Jones, a civil field engineering working in the U.S.
  • Abi Tetteh, an engineer – petitions working in the U.K.
  • Neva Hulya Uncu, a senior change and reporting manager working in the U.K.
  • Carlos Villalobos, a civil superintendent working in the U.S.

The team traveled to Rwanda from five different countries and were lodged approximately 10 minutes from the bridge construction site in the village of Kiyanza, where they interacted daily with the community and shopped at the local markets. Working and eating together during the day, they spent their evenings in the community.

The phases of bridge construction

The entire bridge superstructure was constructed in a two-week period. The first phase of the project required excavating and installing anchor and pedestal foundations to support the bridge load on both sides of the river. Once these were installed, the team began erecting the towers on each side of the river by way of a mechanical winch and scaffolding system.

During the third phase of the project, the team launched the cables and set the sag of the main bridge cables.

Once the cables were launched into a set position, the team got to work on launching the swingers and installing the decking and fencing in the final phase of construction.

Extracurricular activities

While in the country, the Bechtel team visited two schools: the Butangampundu School for grades K-12 and the Kiyanza Secondary School, which is focused on science, technology, engineering, and math. At Kiyanza, the team met with approximately 200 students and discussed choosing fulfilling careers, achieving goals, and working in the engineering and construction professions.

Partnering to build bridges

Since 2016, Bechtel has partnered with Bridges to Prosperity to complete four bridges, totaling 219 meters and connecting an estimated 17,000 individuals in the surrounding communities with safe and reliable access to basic resources all year long. This U.S.-based non-profit organization addresses poverty due to rural isolation by constructing trail bridges, which are a cost-effective and sustainable solution that can be easily deployed to those living in the rural, walking world.

The US$80,000 cost of the bridge was partially funded by Bechtel Group Foundation. In addition, the team raised US$17,000 in donations from family, friends, and colleagues worldwide to cover the team’s travel costs.