A link to the outside world


The people of Selle Nono cannot swim. Where should they learn? There is no calm, shallow water in their neighbourhood in Illubabor, only this raging river named Ganshi – a river that fills them every day with the fear of death. Women on the way to the market, children on the way to school, fathers carrying their sick baby to the doctor – they all have to cross this hapless river with pounding hearts. For 30,000 people there is no stone or steel bridge. The only link to the outside world in the district of Selle Nono is a swaying suspension bridge made of woven lianas and willow.


The people cling to it above the turbulent waters. Their courage falters at every step as the boards beneath them quiver and shake. Again and again, the river takes its toll when animals slip. Even people fall into the river. "This year two schoolchildren were already drowned on their way back from school at Birbisa," reports Tarekegn Lemma, Chief District Administrator, "a girl and boy, both from the eighth class."

The area is inhabited by the Oromo people. The swaying bridge was woven by members of the Meshengir ethnic group. "The Meshengir live on the banks of the river and are not afraid of it," explains Tarekegn Lemma. "We asked them to build the suspension bridge." When Karlheinz and Almaz Böhm visited the district in February, they spontaneously decided that Menschen für Menschen should construct a proper bridge with approach road. The new link over the River Ganshi will be a so-called Bailey bridge, named after the inventor of these practical and safe makeshift bridges: the bridge frame is made of steel and can be assembled from individual parts weighing no more than 300 kilograms each – a decisive criterion in this remote area, in which building materials must be carried over rough and smooth.

The bridge and access road will facilitate help for self-development. For example, there is an urgent need for a medical centre. Until now women have given birth without any form of medical aid. "I’m sure there is no other community in the whole world that has to cross a suspension bridge like wild animals," says Tarekegn Lemma. "That’s why bridge building by Menschen für Menschen is of historic significance to us."


CHF

Beneficiary:
Donations account:
Account Number 18180018
Bank Code 701 500 00
BIC SSKMDEMM
IBAN DE64701500000018180018
Donations account:
Account Number 18180018
Bank Code 701 500 00
BIC SSKMDEMM
IBAN DE64701500000018180018
Spendenkonto:
Postkonto 90-700000-4

Stiftung Menschen für Menschen Karlheinz Böhms Äthiopienhilfe, 8002 Zürich

IBAN-Code:
CH97 0900 0000 9070 0000 4
BIC SSKMDEMM
IBAN DE64701500000018180018
Selle Nono