During the rainy season in the Marange District of Mutare, high water often prevented students from attending school. The United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe decided to do something about the situation.
Recently, the church commissioned the new Nyadindwe Bridge to minimize disruption of classes during inclement weather.
The bridge was wholly funded by the United Methodist-related Marange High School to link the school, communities and businesses. Built at a cost of $45,000, the new structure was commissioned by Zimbabwe Episcopal Area Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa.
During the commissioning ceremony, Nhiwatiwa encouraged the school to cooperate with local communities in addressing challenges.
“I … urge the School Development Authority to continue working with the locals in dealing with some problems that arise in our communities,” he said. The bishop noted that schoolchildren had struggled with crossing the flooded river during the rainy season.
“The old bridge was too low and would flood during rainy season making it impassable,” he said.
Zimbabwe experienced above-normal rainfall due to the effects of tropical cyclone Dineo in March 2017 resulting in severe floods affecting 36 districts in the country.
Nhiwatiwa said although the bridge was meant to link the two sides, it also carries a religious symbol of unity.
“The Nyadindwe Bridge,” he said, “will unite our communities as people cross to either side, but also in religion, bridges can be spiritual, physical and mental in nature.”
The 65-foot-long bridge also was raised to 10 feet high to allow for improved underflow. The school will concentrate on maintaining the 1.5-mile feeder road that links the school and the communities. The school dates back to 1905 when the mission was established.
Marange High School Works supervisor Trymore Chemwandoita said the new bridge is a relief to communities as businesses would be suspended during the rainy season as well.
“When the river was flooded,” he said, “it would affect communication, but with the new bridge, the perennial problem of over a century now has been solved.”
Chemwandoita said it was disheartening to see the children missing lessons as a result of the floods. He was grateful to see the schools shifting from their traditional role of being academic to participation in infrastructure development in their communities.
“We are happy to see our schools taking a heed to (the) government call of infrastructure development as a priority,” he said.
Chingwe is communications coordinator for the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference.
News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.