Bridges to Prosperity
Bridges to Prosperity provides isolated communities with access to essential health care, education and economic opportunities by building foot bridges over impassable rivers.
About Our Organization
Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) is a non-profit organization that partners with university student chapters to build footbridges in isolated rural communities throughout the globe. The members of these communities do not have access to many of the luxuries that many of us take for granted; such as education and healthcare. Townspeople depend on river crossings to reach nearby schools, health centers, and markets, but during the rainy season innocent looking streams turn into impassable rivers. Without a suitable bridge, members of the communities are not able to cross these rivers for months at a time.
Through the Bridges to Prosperity University Program program, we work hand-in-hand with B2P professionals and the local community to design and construct a footbridge each year from conception through completion. B2P provides us with numerous resources such as design manuals and an in-country manager who works year round in our assigned location. In addition, B2P subsidizes our bridge by covering a portion of the cost of the more expensive materials. We, however, are responsible for fundraising the remaining portion of the total bridge cost as well as any travels costs that must be incurred.
B2P has studied the influence of new footbridges in many of these communities. According to the study, a new footbridge can increase school attendance by 12%, visits to health care facilities by 18%, and pedestrian-livestock traffic by anywhere from 100-500%. Building footbridges not just allows the members of these communities to lead a sustainable life, it also empowers them with knowledge as well. Members of the local community work closely with B2P to construct the bridge, and their strong involvement allows them to take pride and ownership of the project. They learn skills that they can continue to use and pass on to other communities. Additionally, Lehigh students gain valuable hands-on engineering and humanitarian experience, lasting a lifetime.
By supporting Lehigh University's chapter of Bridges to Prosperity, you will directly support our mission, making a truly global impact through projects like El Vallicito. We are fully confident in our abilities to design and construct a suitable bridge in our assigned country, Panama. Financially, we anticipate being responsible for around $10,000 of the bridge’s total cost. In addition, we estimate incurring close to $10,000 in travel expenses. Every small amount will have a huge impact in making our dream and the dream of the residents of El Vallecito a reality.
Our Current Project
We will be building our bridge with a span of roughly 100 ft in the area of Vallecito in Panama this summer 2014. In January we visited the site to survey the terrain and begin building relationships with the community. During the summer months from January to March the river can generally be crossed any day. Yet during the winter months from September to December, heavy rainfall significantly increases the water level in the river. During this long span of peak flow, the communities on the east bank of Rio Indio are separated from the school, and the communities on the west bank are separated from healthcare and the main market. Approximately 2,300 people from 7 different communities would benefit from building a footbridge in Vallecito. This bridge will benefit these communities by providing access to the economic and social opportunities obstructed by the river during times of peak flow.