The reason behind this trip has and requires a back-story. We didn’t go over for a vacation on the beach – Liberia isn’t that type of place.
My friend Arno Ekkert had a passion and dream to bring clean water to the people of Africa. One of his goals was to earn as much money as possible so that he could give it away. It’s the type of guy he was. We were sitting around one day talking when we decided to do something “cool” to “raise a bunch of money”. We settled on a run. A long one. We didn’t get too far in our preparations and a year later were nowhere close to accomplishing our goal of $50,000. Our “cool idea” didn’t look like it was going to happen when Arno and another friend Andrew Atoui passed away in a car accident while traveling through Australia. Africa didn’t seem very important all of a sudden. At their funeral Johnny Friesen came up to me and said he had heard about the run we wanted to do. He thought it should still happen and he wanted in. Phil Seel called me up a couple days later and came over to talk about it. A while later Tim Walton joined and then Conroy Ekkert, Arno’s brother followed suit. The run was back on. After 7 months of intense training and a ton of preparation (thanks to a ton of people) we started on a 420km in 13 days journey. We all managed to finish and along the way people went crazy and donated over $54,000. We were blown away. Johnny put it best when he said the run was his way of saying good-bye to Arno.
Tim told us right from the outset that he wanted to go over to Africa someday and see the money being put to use. It wasn’t discussed much but a year or so after the run Tim was still pushing us to go. Trying to get 5 guys’ schedules to work isn’t the easiest thing to do but we finally found the time this past May. We weren’t all in a position to go and I even tried backing out once but in the end we felt is was something we needed to do. Kind of like one last kick at the can, another goodbye to an awesome man. Conroy wasn’t able to come so Peter Barathan came instead. We went with the organization that all the money was donated to: Lifewater Canada. Although they don’t normally take regular (as opposed to trained drillers) people over on trips but were willing to make an exception for us. Five of us from the lower mainland joined up with Linda and Janet (Founder of Lifewater Canada and her friend) in Atlanta before flying into the capital of Liberia, Monrovia. I’ll explain more what we all did in future posts but for now enjoy the pictures.
The drive to seattle along with a “quick” stop at home depot to cut some pipe for projects in Liberia. We didn’t actually buy the pipe at home depot. We just used their new-off-the-shelf saws to cut it =)
Sorting our bags in a Seattle parkade. We each brought an extra bag filled with different equipment (drill bits etc.) A big answer to prayer as some of the equipment only arrived in Burnaby the morning we left.
The crew: Peter, Tim, Phil, Johnny, Me
Makeshift mirror. If it works…why not?
A normal first encounter in most villages we went to.
Forget what this was used for but it went down the well and told them something!
The water currently used for drinking. Once the well in this village was built this water would probably still be used for washing clothes. It was a good distance away.
Lifewater Liberia is “run” by Lifewater Canada. They have a compound/office in the country where the trucks and equipment are kept when they aren’t being used in other parts of of the area.
These men were off to sell coal. They would make a big fire then cover it in a huge heap of branches and wood.
Lifewater Liberia employs Liberian workers and train them how to properly drill wells. They also have workers who go into villages and teach people about health and hygiene.
Even in the rainy season it got to 40+ with humidity. Wake up sweating, go to bed sweating haha.
The man to the left got upset afterwards for taking a picture of his car. I learned to ask. The roads were really rough in most areas, made worse by the downpour.
Peter and I took off for a bit one afternoon and found a school. The principal showed us around made sure to show us his broken well. Villages/people have to apply to Lifewater Liberia in order to be considered for a well. They also need to put a small amount of money upfront, which helps to ensure that they will take care of the well once it is finished.
School children lining up for lunch.
The secretary of the school. He was extremely proud of his office.
Kids would try to get themselves in every picture. This one actually turned out better than the one I wanted when a boy ran into the class.
One of my favourite pictures from the trip. Village kids were amused by ANYTHING we did. Great fun.