Peace Corps Volunteer Helps Build Pedestrian Bridges

Friday, October 14, 2011

http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.media.press.view&news_id=1882

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 13, 2011 – Peace Corps volunteer Jamie Nations of Lorton, Va., helped build the first two pedestrian bridges in her rural community in Nicaragua. Nations organized the planning and construction of bridges that provide access to the local school, health center, children's food bank, and the main highway. One bridge was completed in September 2011 and the other in June 2011.

“The two rivers in my community are constantly flooded during the rainy season, making it too dangerous for my students to come to school. Class attendance dropped by almost 50 percent from May to October,” said Nations, a Peace Corps Education volunteer who has been in service since 2009. “I quickly realized this was a huge problem in my community, not only for the education of my students, but also for mothers taking their children to the food bank for their only meal of the day and seniors seeking medical care at the health center.”

Construction began on the first bridge on April 11 and was completed on June 14. Nations worked with the community, volunteers from the University of Iowa, and another organization to construct the 37-meter (121.3-feet) bridge out of steel cable, concrete, wood, metal fencing, and rocks. Construction began on the second bridge on July 11 and was completed on September 9. Nations secured funding from the Peace Corps and U.S. Agency for International Development Small Project Assistance (SPA) program to construct the bridge using materials such as gabion, rocks, railroad tracks and wood.

“My community had been looking for means to build these bridges for 15 years and now it’s a reality. It is a gift to be able to see how these amazing people will progress and prosper because of the construction of these two bridges,” continued Nations.

The bridges are located approximately one kilometer (0.6 mile) apart and connect the community to the central highway.

About Peace Corps/Nicaragua: More than 2,020 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Nicaragua since the program was established in 1968. Volunteers in this Central American nation work in the areas of Small business development, community-based environmental education, sustainable food security, HIV/AIDS and maternal child health, and teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) education. Many volunteers work through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program to address HIV/AIDS issues. Currently, 218 volunteers are serving in Nicaragua. Volunteers are trained and work in Spanish.

About the Peace Corps: President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.