The community of Miguelito, Bolivia, faced a significant safety problem. For at least one third of the year, the community of 750 risks loss of life crossing the San Jacinto river, which separates their homes from schools, markets, and other services. When the river floods — which is often — the villagers are cut off from vital needs. Over the past three years, attempts to cross the river while flooded have resulted in serious injuries to community members and in one death.
Over the extended July Fourth weekend, a ten-member Parsons Corporation (NYSE:PSN) team, in collaboration with Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), launched a mission to Miguelito to build a 135-foot-long suspended pedestrian bridge connecting the community to key services including schools, markets, and a health clinic. Working from July 6 to 18, community members joined the Parsons team to work 12-hour days hanging cables by hand across the river; measuring, cutting and painting cross beams; laying deck and installing and painting bridge fencing; and completing the ramps that lead to the bridge; all without the benefit of any mechanized construction equipment.
“The people of Miguelito are inspiring. The lack of safe access across the often-flooding river is something they have endured for generations,” said Rashmi Menon, Vice President of Business Development, who led the mission. “What strikes me is the natural importance of human mobility – whether it’s a pedestrian bridge in South America or my team supporting the transformation at Los Angeles International Airport. No matter the scale, it’s always about people and safely connecting them to things that matter the most – education, healthcare, and economic prosperity.”
The Parsons team also spearheaded a STEM learning event at the local school, where they taught the children about different kinds of bridges and then broke into small teams to help them construct bridges from popsicle sticks and glue.
In addition to Menon, team members included: Sara Cederburg, Jeff Ching, Darcy Cowan, William Dooley, Keith Horn, Jonathan Koehler, Thomas Lopez, Blanca Perez-Marin, and Lindsey Postaski.
“The Bolivia footbridge was the fifth project we’ve undertaken with Parsons since 2016,” said Holly Bartelt, B2P’s Senior Programs and Accounts Manager. “Each Parsons team has fostered a spirit of inclusion and remained steadfast to their values of safety and quality. Parsons has proven themselves to be a solid participant in our evolving partnership.”
Parsons’ five bridges, totaling 1,030 feet in length, have connected more than 14,500 individuals in four countries. The last build, in March 2019, took place in Rwanda, where a team of ten women from Parsons and Kiewit built a 190-foot-long suspended footbridge over the Mudasomwa River, 70 miles southwest of the capital city of Kigali.