The truth is that Dareda Kati Village’s old bridge hasn’t gone away yet. The new bridge has come, however, and the old one, still in place just a few feet away, is around as a reminder of dangers that the villagers must no longer confront and inconveniences they no longer have to accept.
Karimu owes a great debt of thanks to our Board member, Dr. Susan Hughmanick, to three-time volunteer Peggy Seltz, and to two-time volunteers Linda Presser and Ed Glysson. Last winter in San Jose, Susan, Peggy, Linda, and Ed went to a fundraiser for Bridging the Gap Africa, hoping to talk with its founder, Harmon Parker. They cornered Harmon and persuaded him to make the exhausting drive from Kenya, where he had built several dozen bridges, to Tanzania, where Dareda Kati’s need was serious and where he would find plenty of cooperation, both from the villagers themselves and from Karimu volunteers.
The initiative of Susan, Peggy, Linda, and Ed found an ideal match in the professionalism and determination of Harmon and his right-hand man, Nate Bloss. Harmon and Nate persisted despite the theft of some of the construction materials that they brought from Nairobi this past July, and also, after the Karimu volunteers had left Africa, despite some personal tragedy suffered by Harmon. Karimu’s debt to Harmon must therefore recognize not only his generosity and hard work, but his courage in going back to Tanzania a couple of weeks ago to finish the bridge.
Although Bridging the Gap Africa’s many projects in Kenya continue, Harmon and Nate have talked about returning to Dareda Kati again next June or July to commemorate what they have achieved with the villagers and our volunteers. Karimu will have no shortage of work during our twelve or thirteen days in the village. But we will feel no guilt when we take an afternoon off to celebrate the new bridge.