The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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May 25, 2014

Austinburg resident returns from Liberia

In the Bassa language of West Africa, missionary Jack Hopkins is called ‘Voagar,’ which means ‘Successful Farmer.’ What he does is called different things in different religions. It is called mitzvah, good deeds, good karma or charity, but it all means he same thing. Jack Hopkins has made good deeds his life's mission.
An Austinburg resident, Hopkins has recently returned from Liberia where he spent five weeks hand-digging wells for remote villages that have no potable water sources. His work has been championed by the Methodist Church and other organizations where the wells have made a difference.
“I am a missionary, but my job is not to proselytize or convert,” Hopkins said. “My mission is bringing fresh drinking water sources to remote villages.”
Hopkins said villages in remote areas are often plagued with dysentery, diphtheria and typhus from lack of good potable water.
“People in these villages often carry 50 gallon containers of water as far as 20 miles every day,” he said. “Or worse, they drink from the same streams used by many villages for bathing, latrines and sewage. It's a difficult situation for many people away from big cities.”
This is Hopkins' fourth visit to Liberia since 2008. Since then he has seen plenty of progress in Liberia but there are still many villages in the wilderness without wells.
“This was our most successful visit so far,” he said. “We put in 11 wells in 11 villages. It was difficult but we're happy with the results.”
Hopkins said the villages he put wells in are still without roads. There are hundreds of thousand year old trails, but they aren't much good for moving equipment. He and his five man crew take a jeep as far as they can and then hoof it through the jungle, carrying equipment and tools on their backs.

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