bridge by Eshan Balbale-Mumbai Mirror

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.

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He completed the project in eight days, “an initiative that politicians and the corporation failed to address for years.”

The teen, who lives elsewhere and gets financial support from his parents, learned that the residents were crossing the nullah despite risks of skin infections, malaria, dengue and other diseases.

“I felt terrible when I saw the children wade through the disgusting sludge,” he told the Mirror.Golden Temple India CC Arian Zwegers

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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.

The young Balbale had earlier set up a nonprofit group, Nirbhay Yuva Pratishthan, to encourage young people to be charitable and to do other great things in India. He also hopes to improve sanitation conditions in the area by building eight to ten toilets.

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