Teen Builds Bridge So Kids Can Safely Get to School
Outside of Mumbai, India, children were dropping out of school rather than wading through a polluted stream in route to their classes every day. The community had complained to the government about the steep, narrow valley with foul smelling water, but nothing had been done–until a 17-year-old college student volunteered to build a bridge on his own.
The Mumbai Mirror reports that Eshan Balbale used bamboo to erect the bridge that measures four-feet-wide and 100-feet across.
He completed the project in eight days, an initiative that politicians and the corporation failed to address for years.
The teen learned that the residents were crossing the stream despite risks of skin infections, malaria, dengue and other diseases. “I felt terrible when I saw the children wade through the disgusting sludge,” he said.
He also learned that 15,000 residents regularly crossed the rancid water to get to the shops and railway stations on the other side.
The bridge, which can carry up to 50 people at a time, and was built to last a couple years, was inaugurated on August 29 and now gives people in Sathe Nagar easy access to the commercial districts nearby.
To continue with his philanthropic work, Eshan set up a non-profit Nirbhay Yuva Pratishthan, where he encourages other youngsters to participate in similar volunteer ventures."My parents are very supportive of my interest and help me by providing financial aid," says the student of Thane's Bedekar College. Although he is interested in pursuing higher studies in aviation, Eshan wants to continue balancing his studies with his volunteer work.
The young altruist will maintain the bridge until a more permanent solution is implemented by the authorities. "I plan to visit the site at least once a month. If the bridge is used responsibly, it should easily last for a couple of years. In the meantime, I will repair the bridge as and when the need arises," he explains.
Eshan also hopes to improve sanitation conditions in the area by building portable toilets.
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