One month. It’s amazing to think that’s how long it has been since we left Morocco from this summer’s implementation trip. As we walked away from our final day on the bridge, peering back at our work as community members of Ait Bayoud crossed for the first time, there was an incredible array of emotions among us. I for one felt joy at seeing how excited the community members were, relief that we had completed the bridge on time, excitement for the future of the bridge, and even sadness for leaving the site that we had worked so hard on for the three weeks prior. Yet even with all of these emotions, and the evidence of the completed bridge before our eyes, it was still difficult to believe that the bridge was actually done. No matter how many times we said it, thought it, or stared at the 210-foot span, I don’t think that anyone at that moment had an easy time comprehending the magnitude of our accomplishment.
With the help of so many students, workers, sponsors, and mentors, we were able to physically leave an impact on the future of Ait Bayoud. This bridge could help to send a child to school, help a mother in labor get to proper care, and possibly save someone’s life someday. In a matter of three weeks, I was able to see the culmination of so many years of hard work and dedication right before my eyes. When I walked across the bridge for the first time, I felt more than honored to be where I was, I felt spoiled. Here I was, a first-year student, traveling out of the country for the first time to experience working on a large-scale engineering project for the first time. I was given an incredible opportunity to experience another culture, make friends in another country, and finally understand why so much work has been done to complete this project.
Even today, I am still amazed by the people I worked with for those three weeks, the people that traveled before, and everyone associated with EWB Morocco over the history of this project. We ran into our fair share of snags over the course of the last three weeks of the project, from tool and hardware failures to almost daily trips to Essaouira for supplies.
Most of our trip was spent lowering, splicing, and tensioning ropes, as well as preparing deck pieces for the final installation. It was with only a week left that we actually began putting deck pieces on the bridge, and with only two days left that we began to put the safety fishnet on the bridge. Yet somehow, even when we encountered these snags in the pressing time, everyone worked together, focused a little harder, and pushed through to complete the task. It’s still difficult for me to fathom that we, EWB Morocco, completed the longest synthetic cable suspension footbridge in the world for an absolutely incredible community, yet we did, and I couldn’t be any more proud.