Bridging the gap, saving lives

River in Shashego

A quiet river like this can become a death trap in flood season

I honestly don’t know how many bridges I crossed this morning on the way to work. I drive on a freeway that crosses over myriad side streets, and navigates a pass through the Phoenix North Mountain nature preserve.  I don’t even think about the steel and concrete that take me 16 miles to work and back each day.

In the village of Hamusit, in Ethiopia, everyone knows how many bridges it takes to connect their remote village with the world. It just takes one–and it makes all the difference in the world.

The Cho Chora River passes by the community with its life-giving water. But before the bridge was built, when the floods came, the river brought death, too.  People and livestock were often killed trying to cross the river.  Trucks that transported farmers’ crops to market, couldn’t come into the village because of flooding, causing families to lose precious income.

The worst times in  Hamusit were the years when the harvest didn’t last for a full year, creating a food gap. At this same time, the village was cut off from government food aid distributions.  It was then Food for the Hungry (FH) helped provide food aid. For the past seven years in Hamusit, food aid is life-or-death important for these people.

Another difficultly of being bridge-less was that people could not reach the health clinic. Imagine your baby has a severe fever, diarrhea and vomiting. You know your child is desperately ill and needs an antibiotic.  Or, your wife has been in labor for hours, and it’s evident that she is in danger. But you can’t get to a doctor, and the doctor can’t get to you, because the water level is so high. The health post is five hundred feet from the other side of the river — but you can’t cross over. Sometimes, people died of perfectly curable conditions, because there was no bridge.

With the help of funds from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), FH helped build a bridge so small, I doubt any of us would even notice it as we were driving. But now some 15,000 people can take their sick kids for help, drive their animals to market without losing any of them, and sell their crops.  A small bridge is making a world of difference.

How many bridges do you cross in a day? I’ll be counting next time I drive, and thanking God for each of them.  I’ll thank God every time I cross a bride to go to the doctor, or to buy groceries.


About Beth Allen

I'm a self-professed sustainable development geek who would have a very hard time picking a favorite country. That means, I love every tribe and nation and take great joy in seeing how God is working in the world. I've been with FH for nearly two decades, and started out by serving with them in the Bolivian Andes. I can't live without Jesus and coffee, but the coffee is mostly decaf so the power is from Jesus.

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