News & Events

Building a Godsend

When HMCHA volunteers completed their first service project in Ethiopia, the bridge they built over the Wadecha River was a literal Godsend to the communities it served, linking residents to commerce, education and healthcare services that were all blocked to them during the rainy season. Before its completion, 5 to 6 people drowned every year, and the livestock that died during the crossings denied many families their only source of income.

Only one problem: the bridge decking was constructed of untreated lumber because treated lumber was unavailable in Africa at that time. In the 5 years since, the decking became less and less safe.

Enter HMCHA board member and construction professional, Jim Burgess. He enlisted the help of volunteers Terry Hayward and Bruce Clarkson. The men undertook the dangerous task of working high over the river to replace decking, all the while racing against the deadline imposed by the rainy season. The task is finished. The new red metal bridge deck will safely serve the communities for years to come.

HMCHA was pleased when volunteer Terry Hayward was named Volunteer of the Year by his employer, Cigna. He was featured in a newsletter distributed to 74,000 employees, and HMCHA received a check for $5,000 in Terry’s honor. We are humbled by the efforts of Terry and his fellow volunteers.

Here are some thoughts from Terry’s wife, Jean, about the family’s relationship with their sponsored HMCHA child, Demoze:

“It has been a huge blessing in our lives to sponsor Demoze for the last seven years. We are proud to see him develop from a little boy to an 8th grader almost ready to go high school.

Terry had the privilege of meeting with Demoze last year while he was in Ethiopia to help with the new decking of the bridge over the Wadecha River.

We realized how our little sacrifice of money could change the path of a young man’s life. Terry was able to encourage Demoze as he was studying for his Level I exam, a very important exam for him. Demoze has since completed 8th grade and is starting Level II, equivalent to 9th grade, and we pray for his continued academic success as he grows into a successful young Christian ready to serve his community in the future.”