We are urgently trying to raise money to build a new bridge in the small village of Ure e Shtrentje, in northern Albania.
The village is divided in half by a deep gorge, that has been cut into the mountain by the winter and spring rains. The villagers used to cross it via a large stone bridge. But just a few years ago, the torrents coming down the mountains were so strong and powerful that they tore the old bridge away.
The community doesn?t have the resources or the money to replace it with a similar one, so all they could do was to lay down a few narrow metal planks to serve as a make-shift bridge. Not only is this extremely unsafe (see the photos on the right), it's also of little use when, in the springtime, melting snow from the mountain causes the river to swell again. The water level rises far above the little makeshift bridge, and can stay that high for several weeks at a time. During that time, people on one side of the village are totally cut off from the rest of the world for several weeks.
Not only can they not get to school, or be visited by the village nurse, but, crucially, the only road out of the village is on the other side of the gorge. This cuts them off from modern medical care and from their access to the market, meaning they have no way to sell their produce, and are left with no source of income for several weeks.
The community is desperate to have a proper bridge again, and are happy to put in the labour required - but they are struggling to buy the materials! An engineer has been called in, and working together with Oxfam Albania staff, who will oversee the construction work, he has carried out a valuation of the project. The estimate is that building a new, safe, and solid bridge will cost approximately £14,000.
Help us build a bridge to a better future for the people of Ure e Shtrentje!