Civil Engineering alumnus, Christopher Strock ’97, his wife, Anna, and their colleagues, have taken on special work in Haiti through the auspices of Partners In Heath (PIH), a U.S.-based non-profit organization dedicated to providing aid to impoverished communities as detailed in Tracey Kidder’s book Mountains Beyond Mountains. One of the many ways that PIH assists communities with whom they work is by building infrastructure that will help provide people with access to free healthcare, schools, and markets. Strock is at the helm of preparations for one such project — a bridge to be built over the Fonlanfè River in the area of Boucan Carré, in Haiti’s Central Plateau.
“Strock has focused on inequalities in infrastructure in resource-poor settings since 2004.”1 Now, together with his “colleagues from Virginia Tech’s Myers-Lawson School of Construction and the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Strock is working with industry leaders, family, and friends to raise $250,000 for construction of the bridge he designed. This work is a continuation of a relationship with Partners in Heath and Zanmi Lasante (PIH’s sister organization in Haiti) who operates at nine clinics and hospital sites. In the village of Boucan Carré, many patients must cross the Fonlanfè River to reach the clinic.”2
“Chris’ wife, Anna, is a free-lance writer volunteering her marketing expertise to this effort. She and her husband, along with colleague and web developer, Sarah Alston, and others have started Bridge for Haiti—a group of friends, family, churches, engineering and construction companies and professional organizations joining together for a common goal.”3
On the Bridge for Haiti website (www.bridgeforhaiti.org), visitors can learn about the history, health, education and economic information of the region; can see additional pictures; can read Strock’s detailed proposal for the bridge; and sign up to make donations. $35,000 of the needed $250,000 has been raised to-date.
Strock received his BSCE (with honors) in 1997 and worked for DPR Construction in Redwood City, Calif., and Timmons Group in Richmond, Va. He received his MSCEE with an emphasis in environmental engineering in 2006 from Virginia Tech and is currently a doctoral student there and is this year’s recipient of the university’s Graduate Student Service Award for his exceptional volunteer service.
“Strock and some of his Hokie classmates (including Tim Moore ’97 who is leading an effort to build a clinic in Hinche, Haiti) organized a new student group they named Poverty Awareness Coalition for Equality (PACE), at Virginia Tech and has helped to champion service projects and fundraising activities to generate support for various health and hygiene initiatives in Belize. In addition, Strock volunteers his engineering expertise for a hospital in Nigeria, PIH in Haiti, and with Peacework, also in Belize.
“His first international service experience was in 2004 in Nigeria where he began working with Nigeria Faithful Fund to drill a series of wells for a hospital. He has since conducted drinking water assessments and developed distribution system construction plans for multiple schools and hospitals throughout Nigeria for the Nigeria Baptist Convention as a volunteer with Nigeria Faithful Works. He took his third trip to Nigeria in 2007.
“In addition to his work in Nigeria and with Bridge for Haiti, Strock has collaborated with Peacework, and devoted the better part of last year to the design of water filtration/rain water collection systems for three rural schools in Belize and volunteered to supervise a group of Rhodes College students in the construction and implementation of the systems in the summer of 2007. Then, in spring of 2008, Strock was among a group from Virginia Tech who worked on a variety of school improvement projects in Bella Vista, Belize.”4
Special thanks to Chris and all of his colleagues for their wonderful humanitarian work! Civil Engineering and VMI are honored by his hard work and dedication.
1Strock, Anna and Alston, Sarah, Bridge for Haiti, <http://www.bridgeforhaiti.org> (accessed July 18 , 2008.
2Lynstrom, Lynn, “School of Construction Student Chris Strock Wins Graduate Service Award,” Office of University Relations, VPI&SU, Blacksburg, VA, 30 June 2008. <http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/news> (accessed July 17, 2008).
3Strock, Anna and Alston, Sarah, Bridge for Haiti, <http://ww.bridgeforhaiti.org> (accessed July 18 , 2008.
4Lynstrom, Lynn, “School of Construction Student Chris Strock Wins Graduate Service Award,” Office of University Relations, VPI&SU, Blacksburg, VA, 30 June 2008. <http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/news> (accessed July 17, 2008).