Archives for the month of: July, 2009

Here is the first of several updates about the money we’ve raised for the borehole in the village. Total needed = £11,500


Seaton Methodist Church was full for the piano recital I gave on 8 July. We raised £1,179 towards the cost of drilling a borehole in the village where I live in Togo. It’s the first time I’ve played in public for many years, and a great opportunity to reconnect with my musical past. Thanks to all of you who came and supported the event. This was the programme:

Mozart Sonata in D major K. 284 ~ Allegro, Rondeau en Polonaise, Adagio Cantabile, Allegro

Debussy Préludes ~ Les collines d’Anacapri, La fille aux cheveux de lin, La cathédrale engloutie, Minstrels

Arensky ~ Basso ostinato

Brahms ~ Intermezzo in A

Chopin ~ Minute Waltz

Ravel ~ Pavane pour une infante défunte

Chopin ~ Polonaise in A

And this is the piano I practiced on – good memories, John and Joan!

Adapted from an article by Graham Jones

From July 10-20th, a total of thirteen hikers took part in a 100-mile sponsored walk on the South West Coast Path to help raise £11,500 to sink a borehole in a village in Togo, West Africa. Nothing unusual in that, except that it’s my home village and the people who will benefit are my Togolese neighbours.

I moved to Togo in 1995 to study Kabiye, one of the country’s 40 or so local languages.  Home is a concrete and mud-brick compound without running water in a mountain village near the northern town of Kara.

Daily life in the village is dominated by the availability of water. In the dry north of Togo there’s no rain for at least six months in the year.  Water has to be fetched from the nearest working well.  In the rainy season that’s a few hundred metres away.  But when the local well dries up, it’s a walk of up to two kilometres to find one that’s deeper.

As in most water-scarce countries in Africa, the task of fetching water falls to the women. My ‘running water’, as I affectionately call her, is 40-year-old Pauline whom I employ to refill the water barrel on my compound three or four times a week.  On each occasion, Pauline makes seven trips back from the well with a 40-litre basin on her head and often a baby on her back.  By the end of the dry season, she needs to leave home by 3am to be sure of finding supplies. This may sound an unjust arrangement. But it’s no different to what anyone in Kabiye society with a busy lifestyle and a small amount of spare cash would do.  And it gives Pauline a regular income.

Most of the village wells are uncovered.  That makes them home to frogs, not to mention the silt and animal dung that wash in from the surface.  The water is grey-brown and potentially dangerous if it isn’t filtered, which none of the villagers has the means to do.  An uncovered well is also a breeding ground for mosquitoes, worms and amoebas, contributing to the high mortality rate among village children, especially those under five.

Hence this mission to raise funds for a covered borehole to provide clean water for 30 families in the village.  The venture has the blessing of the village elders from whom I’ve negotiated a £100 contribution to demonstrate their ownership of the project and their commitment to maintaining the finished borehole.

If the Walk for Water achieves its aims, more children in the village will live beyond the age of five and women like Pauline will no longer spend several hours a day collecting water.  Other benefits will follow, especially for the female population.  With some of the traditional chores alleviated, fewer girls will be pulled out of school early to help at home and more will be educated for longer.  And more women – often the backbone of local commerce – will have the time to run businesses and earn an income.

View some photos of the walk .

View the publicity flyer with information about how to donate.

View the borehole contractor’s estimate

View the endorsement letter from the village elders.