Every day, in communities around the world, children ford rivers with books stacked on their heads just to get an education and a chance at a brighter future. Every day, in communities around the world, sick and injured people unnecessarily suffer and die as a result of flooded rivers stranding them from medical care. Every day, in communities around the world, farmers, craftspeople, and other workers miss out on the chance to make life better for themselves and their families because they can't access markets across a swollen river. Geographic isolation like this is an everyday reality for millions around the world, but life does not have to be like this for them.
The Cornell Chapter of Engineers in Action (EIA) solves these problems by designing and building pedestrian footbridges for underserved communities in eSwatini and Bolivia. The pedestrian footbridges built by EIA chapters like ours have resulted in a 12% increase in school enrollment, 18% increase in healthcare treatment, 75% increase in farm profits, and a 59% increase of women's participation in labor markets. Our team has built three bridges—Calcha (Bolivia), Kontshingila-Nhletjeni (eSwatini), and Mdlasomi (eSwatini)—and for each build we have sent eight students for eight weeks during the summer to work alongside professional engineers from around the world, local masons, and the rural communities. These bridges and the building experiences not only make a tangible impact, but also empower all who work on them—students, community members, and engineers—to go on to make lasting change.
The work our team does is important in the world now more than ever, but it is not possible without your support. Our Summer 2020 build season was canceled unexpectedly by the COVID-19 pandemic, but with your support we were able to survive the abrupt disruption. It is our hope that we can build again in the Summer of 2021, but this can only be done through your help. If we build, your donation will go towards travel and living expenses for our travel team, and materials and equipment to build pedestrian footbridges safely. If we cannot build, your donation will be saved in the hope of a future build, support continued team education, and help our American, Swazi, and Bolivian partners continue building bridges and making an impact—even if our team cannot be there in-person to do that. In short, your support will continue to make an impact whether we are able to travel this upcoming summer or not.
The Cornell EIA team hopes to move forward no matter what obstacles stand in our way, and your support of our team will make that all the more possible to do successfully. With your help, we will be able to continue to empower today's students to become tomorrow's global leaders, build bridges with underserved communities, and ensure that geography doesn't determine access to opportunity.
For more information, check out our website at eia.engineering.cornell.edu.