News Release

Clean Water for Nyagbo Fiafe

500 year old tradition changed for good

Shouts of praise, dancing feet and tears of gratitude expressed the joy of villagers in Nyagbo Fiafe as water flowed through faucets into waiting basins. Clean water delivered at the village was the direct result of villagers working closely with LDS Charities Humanitarian Specialist Henry Baker, or “Grandpa” as he is known throughout the Nyagbo region.

 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embarked on a clean water program for Afadzato South District Assembly in early 2015 as Elder and Sister Baker, from Burley, Idaho USA, began their service as welfare missionaries in the Africa West Area. This project included 16 water systems consisting of bore holes, spring catchments, mechanized pumps and hand powered pumps. Specialists from LDS Charities design water systems which maximize local resources for the benefit of those they serve.

Local contractors had completed 15 phases of this project. However, issues with an inexperienced contractor, as well as challenges at the water source, steep hills, and extended drought, threatened to thwart Nyagbo Fiafe from realizing the goal of fresh water at village level.

Elder and Sister Baker visited the village in October 2016. As a retired well driller, he had heard the challenges and understood the struggles. There just was not enough water at the site. The hills were too steep. This specific project was simply not going to work.

Driving 40 minutes along a hand carved jungle road; his truck laboring in 4 wheel drive, Elder and Sister Baker were relieved to reach the compound. Children from the village surrounded them. Headman Francis Agbakpe V, greeted them in a language they had never heard. The Bakers were informed they were the first “obrunis” (white people) to visit the village of Nyagbo Fiafe.

These senior missionaries formed an instant bond with the welcoming headman and his wife.  

Following villagers, the Bakers skidded down the steep hill to a natural spring nearly 750 meters from village homes. To meet their family’s daily requirement, women came here 4 to 5 times each day, to fill large basins with water (about 8 gallons) and carry it on their heads up the narrow, grueling trail. 

After seeing the extreme conditions, Elder and Sister Baker vowed to return with funding, a redesigned system, and personally oversee the challenges of construction. Tribesmen and women wept with joy when they learned water would come to their village.

Tribe Linguist, Mark Ati-Togbe said, “For all of my life, for my father’s life, for his father’s life, for the life of his grandfather and the father of his grandfather; the women have fetched water from below.” Pointing to Elder Baker, he continued,, “Today our lives have changed because of this man.”

These welfare specialist missionaries are beloved by everyone in the village and referred to “Grandpa and Grandma.”

Armed with an inspired plan, dogged determination, and Elder Baker’s instruction, villagers used cutlass, pick, and shovel to excavate more than 500 meters of trench for electrical and water supply lines from village level to catchment basin.

A retaining wall and pad was constructed from 2.5 cubic yards of sand, aggregate and cement carried on the heads of women and boys. When additional gravel was required; rocks were gathered, then crushed by children and mothers, using hammers and stones.

Five months of intense labor, many set-backs and fervent prayers for rain, culminated in water flowing from the improved springs into the storage tank at the catchment basin.

A voltage regulator controlled unstable electricity to the switch which fed power to the pump. Elder Baker’s modified pump sent water up the steep hill to the 5000 litre (1300 gallon) storage tank at the village. Faucets were opened and clean water flowed freely. A 500 year old tradition of fetching water changed forever!

On March 31, 2017, a ceremony to officially present the water system to the village of Nyagbo Fiafe occurred. Dignitaries from the local government, the tribe and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were on hand.

Foster Huno, Afadzato South District Assembly Assistant Director, thanked LDS Charities. “I marvel at the resilience and dedication of Elder and Sister Baker. He is 73 years old and worked as tireless as a young man. God is with him. I have deepest respect for your Church and the missionaries they have sent.”

Togbe Erick Koradzah Above’ IX, complimented LDS Charities and Elder Baker. “You are our Grandpa, " he said, " We love you. You served us and you showed us how to serve God. We will never forget what you and your Church have done for us. You brought water to our village, but you did it for God.”  

LDS Charities site monitor Joseph Sowah worked closely with the villagers during the last five months of the project. He stated “We all learned clean water is never free. We have worked side by side. It has been hard and discouraging work. With God’s help, we have all been part of a miracle.”

Benedictory remarks by the Bakers illustrated their love for the villagers of Nyagbo Fiafe. 

“Thank you for being so kind. Today has been the very best celebration. The water is all yours,” said Elder Baker.

“As we worked together, we learned to love each other," he reminded them,"Through hard work, faith and prayers, God has allowed the impossible to be done. Sister Baker and I will never forget you. You have captured our hearts and we will forever count you as our family.”  

 

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