Several years ago a vital lifeline for the people of Kapeya in Malawi was washed away during severe floods. For many years, a footbridge provided safe and reliable access to trading centres across treacherous terrain. These trading centres are critical to sustain a basic quality of life, providing essential supplies for the village. Since the collapse of the bridge, the community has suffered terribly, having to take long alternative routes or risk serious injury by scaling the steep ravine shown in the picture below. During the wet season, the route is impassable.
Smile Malawi, a small UK registered charity was founded in 2004 by Elspeth Baecke to build an orphanage to protect vulnerable children in Malawi. The orphanage now cares for 43 children and young adults aged between 4-20 offering a safe home to grow up. The charity ensures that the children have access to education and is even currently funding a university course in medicine. Since opening the orphanage, Smile Malawi has taken an active role in the community of Kapeya, providing a clean water source and an electricity supply which has made possible the construction of a maize mill which now supports several local communities in the area!
As a result, the Bridge to Kapeya Project is more vital now than ever to connect communities allowing them to trade and provide for their families without risking serious injury across dangerous terrain or making unsustainable journeys for a basic quality of life.
A small team of five engineers will be travelling to Kapeya to build a bridge which represents a significant step forwards in tackling the daily challenges faced by these communities. All are current or former Network Rail employees with experience in building and maintaining thousands of masonry arch bridges currently in use across the UK rail network. Whilst the environment and the tools will be different, we are committed to building a structure to provide a platform for the community of Kapeya to grow for many years to come!
The first £2500 donated will help get the engineers there, with everything else up to the target going towards construction materials and tools.
Help us keep them smiling!
For more information about the charity Smile Malawi, please visit www.smilemalawi.com