Shonga Bridge

img_3513At  the beginning of September, John returned to Malawi. His main aim was to finish the building of  a walkway bridge over a stream at Shonga that floods to a great depth in the rainy season. The river, in the dry season, is only a few feet deep and can be crossed by a  wooden walkway made of tree branches. This lady is using the “old” bridge (with the addition of a few planks to make it safer during construction) to take her firewood home.

In the rainy season the whole area floods and the branch bridge is submerged to a depth of 6 feet. To cross the flooded river safely, the new walkway bridge has to be above this level so the walkway will be some 9 feet above the old bridge level. The length of the bridge will be 130 feet and was designed by Prof Alan McGown.

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In a short time the bridge began to take shape and the bridge approach was built.

 

 

 

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The construction went on apace. (“Old” bridge can be seen on the right of the new construction)

 

 

 

 

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Unfortunately, John had to leave Malawi before the bridge was completely finished, leaving Bob Baxter and Alan Laverock to “finish up”. This bridge will make a tremendous difference to the lives of the villagers, who will now have access to medical services, schools, church and markets during the rainy season.

From Malawi to Buckingham Palace

dscn1665124It was all a bit of a rush! John Challis left it as late as possible to leave Malawi, so that he could almost finish the building of the bridge at Shonga. He finally flew into Glasgow airport on Sunday with just time to get home, change his luggage and pick up Sue before flying down to London on Monday for his appointment at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday morning!

The OBE which he had been awarded was presented by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. An hour and a half later, an excited John was back outside the palace having photos taken before enjoying a celebratory lunch with the family.

Well done John (and Sue). I think we will award you a wee rest of at least a couple of days!