Marty McBurney, VP of Student Housing, put his expertise to work as Fundraising Lead for the Bridges to Prosperity suspended bridge team. While he's no stranger to volunteering, this program was different from his other charitable experiences.
Read along to learn more about Marty's experience in Rwanda!
Role on team: Fundraising Lead
Role responsibilities: Prior to leaving for the trip, my role included providing motivation, examples, and support for each team members individual fundraising efforts.
During the trip, I provided daily updates of new donations received and reminders to post about their experiences and opportunities to continue to donate.
Additionally, my role was expanded to doing whatever was need onsite to build the bridge. I spent a lot of time early on in the pre-fabrication tent pre-drilling screw holes and assembling bridge swings to later be installed as part of the decking. Once the cables were run on the bridge, I was able to participate in installing deck boards and installing the fencing materials. Our team really focused on everyone having an opportunity to do everything throughout their time so we all did a little bit of everything to make the build a success.
What made you want to volunteer for the effort? I love to serve others and show God’s love as often as I can and saw this as a perfect opportunity to do so.
What is your favorite memory from the experience? Hands down the best part of the trip was getting to interact with all of the children throughout the village. Our daily walk to and from the site was about a 30 minute hike that turned into 45 minutes to an hour each day because we would stop and interact with the kids along the walk. Somer was regularly taking polaroid’s of all of the kids (some ended up with 10 pictures of themselves and would carry them around like playing cards) and then we would listen to music on our walks and sometimes stop and break into a dance (macarena, electric slide, cupid shuffle, etc.). And then on the last day of the trip, I was able to work take some photos of some kids and give them some additional clothing items we had left over while one of our other teammates had broken out crayons and construction paper for the kids to do artwork; then one of the kids that I had taken a picture of brought me a drawing she did of a flower with the statement “In God we trust!” and being a Christian that just blew me away to see the power of God’s work all over the world.
Did you learn anything new while working on the project? Coming from an office environment on a regular basis, I was able to learn a few new things from being in the field. We had a great construction manager who provided everyone with opportunities to try out new things that they may never have an opportunity to do. One of those things was surveying; Brendan pulled me over and gave me an opportunity to look through the equipment and see how they line things up in order to make sure they are hitting the proper elevation marks. Additionally, I was able to use a grinder to cut the cabling for the hand rails and I had never used a grinder previously.
Have you done something similar to Bridges to Prosperity before? Not to the same extent. I would say it is similar to habitat for humanity, which I did regularly during college, and going on a mission trip.
Anything else you’d like to add? Really would encourage others to apply in the future and get out of their comfort zones and go!