Linking Communities in Rural Panama

Five Buro Happold team members from across our US region are heading to Panama this September with the international non-profit Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), where they will volunteer their skills and time to build a 200 foot footbridge over the Rio Caloveborita in the country’s Santa Fe region.

A photo from the first Buro Happold build with Bridges to Prosperity in Gasiza, Rwanda in 2016.

The Rio Caloveborita is rendered too dangerous to cross during a majority of the year when waters rise, leaving residents of the surrounding rural communities of Caloveborita, Pedrogoso, Pena Blanca, Alto Limon, and Maranon isolated from everyday needs and services, including healthcare, employment, and education. The new footbridge our team will help design and build will provide safe, year-round, access for nearly 7,400 residents of the direct and surrounding communities.

The Need

Nearly a billion people worldwide lack access to basic infrastructure – infrastructure that would allow access to resources such as healthcare, food and water, and economic opportunity. Stable infrastructure, specifically footbridges, can increase access to education for children by 12%, access to employment for women by 18%, and access to healthcare can increase by 24%. A footbridge for the communities sitting on the edge of the Rio Caloveborita means that school children will no longer be at risk of falling behind in school due to lack of access. It means that the community can continue trading at central markets during the rainy season and sustain economic success throughout the year. It means safe access to healthcare.

The Team

Our internal team includes Fraser Reid (NY), serving as Project Manager, Sara Kingman (LA) as Logistics Manager, Jaclyn Hersh (NY) is the team’s Communications Manager, and Heidi Creighton (LA) and David Coplon (NY) are both filling support roles. Once in Panama, our team will be accompanied by five members from PCL Construction as well as an on the ground team from B2P. With two months left before the departure date, our team will continue to prepare for the build – organizing fundraising initiatives for additional resources, developing an extensive logistics plan and checklist for packing/building supplies, understanding the specific and unique safety requirements of the site, and drafting a communications plan to keep all our supporters and followers engaged while we’re on the ground.

Pictured from left: David Coplon, Jaclyn Hersh, Fraser Reid, Sara Kingman, and Heidi Creighton.

This is the second project that engineers from Buro Happold have undertaken with B2P, the first a 185ft footbridge bridge in Gasiza, Rwanda, built in 2016. Both projects have been made possible by generous donations from Buro Happold and B2P. To find out more about this mission and our build in Panama, visit our webpage.

Update

The location of this project recently changed. Originally our team was chosen to build a footbridge for the Tomatoya community in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, with great sadness we had to cancel this mission due to political unrest in the country. However, we hope that the mission to build a bridge and provide safe access for this community will be fulfilled in 2019.

About Bridges to Prosperity

B2P envisions a world where poverty caused by rural isolation no longer exists. They work with isolated communities to create access to essential economic, educational and health care opportunities by building footbridges over impassable rivers. Through local engagement, from regional governments to members of each partner community, B2P is committed to a sustainable model that puts the focus on people and the opportunities that make it possible for them to thrive. To learn more about B2P, how you can become a volunteer or industry partner, visit their website here.

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