The construction of the 73 meter long footbridge in the beautiful community of Chosco lasted two summers, the summers of 2017 and 2018. The first summer, only University of Colorado had travelled to the site. University of Illinois was blessed with the opportunity of travelling with Colorado to Chosco for the summer of 2018, during which the bridge finally was completed, after two years of hard work by all.
During the summer of 2017, University of Colorado had managed to survey the land, build up both towers, start on excavation, and more. What they were able to accomplish in such little time was incredible, but the job was still yet to be finished. As soon as we arrived in 2018, we began working on the excavation of the abutments, creating the space for anchor cages to be placed. Many hours were spent shoveling, picking, and wheelbarrowing away dirt, all the while enjoying the company of each other and the community members. Friendships between all were quickly formed.
Though many problems were encountered throughout the course of the trip, whether it be a lack of materials, community disagreements, or ill health, our team was able to stay positive and problem solve such that we kept moving forward. Our project manager Christina Sawaya fought for us everyday. We would not have been able to finish the construction of the bridge if it weren’t for the problem solving skills she had as well as our whole team’s ability to brainstorm and strategize.
Soon it came time to pull the cables across the bridge, harness them with the anchor cage, and lay decking. Before we knew it, the seven weeks came to an abrupt end. Before us stood a magnificent bridge, one that connected the community’s two sides, allowing community members to access their crops during the rainy season, allowing them to prosper economically. The bridge also built a connection between every person there. The relationships formed on that trip are ones that will last forever. The bond built between the travel members, and the bond that we had with the community was truly heartfelt. The community members bid us a very emotional goodbye after throwing us an incredible goodbye feast. And with that, we went our separate ways, taking with us an experience unlike any other.