Mind the Gap – Building Bridges that Save in Kenya
West Pokot, Kenya is a land of spectacular beauty. The isolated communities that scatter the landscape become all the more isolated when rivers swell and flash floods come through, effectively cutting communities off from all communication and aide.
Harmon Parker, is an American from Lexington, Kentucky. He was a part of his first bridge build in 1997. Since then, he’s built over 45 footbridges across areas of frequent flooding, connecting people in various communities with help and resources.
Harmon was so taken by the hope that these footbridges give the people, he’s devoted himself to the cause. He’s dealt with malaria, run-ins with hippos and crocodiles; but continues on, motivated by the chance to give Kenyans a better life.
David Kakuko stands at Moruny River, where his parents both drowned thirteen years ago. Today, Kakuko is working with Harmon to build a footbridge over the Moruny, an often flooded waterway in West Pokot.
“Before the bridge, there were so many people, so many who lost their lives,” said Kakuko, “I know, because I have no parents. I have no parents, because this river took them.”
“I have more goats then I know what to do with.” says Harmon.
Harmon has heard stories like these too many times. “I have built many bridges in very remote areas for the ‘few and the needy’ that a larger organization may not consider,” says Harmon, “Knowing this bridge will probably save at least one life is what makes me tick. … I build bridges because I want to save lives, lives that I will never know about.”
In order to pick his spots, there are several requirements. The community must ask for his assistance. The river in question must be considered a peril to cross, and inhibit access to education, health care or commerce. The community must also show a willingness to participate in the project, to “create a sense of pride in their bridge”.
A financial contribution is also welcome. “I have more goats then I know what to do with.” says Harmon.
At an average cost of about $6,000 (US), financing is always the limiting factor. Harmon averages the creation of about six bridges a year.
You can help Kenyans access the resources they need by getting involved via Harmon’s website here