Chris & Diane Baker
Chris & Diane Baker
Across the Pond Aquascapes
We have joined the foundation on 3 projects:
- 2010 Colombia also joined by our son, Alex Krause
- 2012 Uganda
- 2014 Ghana
Being part of the Aquascape Foundation’s projects is something Chris and I find very hard to put into words. Our first experience in 2010 to Colombia was life-changing.
We signed up knowing we were going to be a part of something special. Just how special, we had NO idea. That project put our lives in perspective and kept it in perspective with each new project. We never dreamed we could use our talents as pond builders for such a worthy cause. To be able to use our skill sets to change peoples’ lives … we would never have dreamed it.
When you arrive and get off the bus on the first day, you’re struck by joy on the mothers’ faces … and hope! You realize in a split instant that, as a parent, you have a common bond … to see your children healthy and happy. All language barriers disappear and you’re united by a common goal. Then it suddenly becomes blazingly clear that the sad reality is, that with the polluted water that so many of these villages have access to, many of these children won’t survive. To realize you’re there to change that is truly humbling and a huge sense of urgency takes over.
Two particular visions stay with us to this day. The first was when we were in Uganda. We were working in a village situated on the banks of the beautiful Lake Victoria. It’s one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world and it’s polluted. I remember walking by the lake and there was a child gathering water. Next to that child, standing in the water (doing its business) was a cow. A little further down was a young man washing his clothes.
The second vision and the strongest were in Ghana. We finished work one day and our guide was taking us to the village’s water source. We walked for quite some time through brush and scrub land; we were warned to watch for the puff adders and to stay on the path. Suddenly our guide stops, we’re standing in the middle of a marshy area, he points to the ground and says “here is the water.” We looked down and silence fell over our group.
What we saw was pockets of water pooling in hoof prints from the cows and other indents. This is where the women and children gathered their water to cook and drink. The reality of why we do what we do hit us full force. It made us want to scream it from the roof tops! For us, one of the hardest things with these projects is our return home. You just want everyone to know what you saw and the challenges that people are having at that very minute, while we wait in line for our Starbucks coffee trying not to feel guilty or going into the food store and being completely overwhelmed and grabbing milks, eggs and bread because it’s all you can manage.
I bring this up to try to give a view of just how emotional these trips are and the effect they have on us as a team. The people we meet are so gracious and loving. The children can’t smile and laugh enough. They just want to be near you. My son Alex said he felt like a Disney World mascot, and loved every minute of it.
There were so many facets to each project, so many obstacles and challenges and through it all, the team and the communities came together and made it happen. We created bonds amongst our team mates that will never be broken. We persevered through the heat and challenges, laughed more than I think I ever have at one single event and became family.
The children were fantastic, always with smiles on their faces and wanting to help in any way they could. The women were amazing, in Ghana we were pressed against the clock due to some challenges early on. It came time to fill in around the storage system and the women; young, old and even pregnant, created a chain to move tons of sand.
They carried five-gallon buckets and anything else they could find on their heads and worked nonstop to get the system buried. It was so rewarding to see everyone taking ownership of the system.
The passion that Carla Wittstock brings to this organization is contagious. She saw a need and found a way to ease the lives of so many in need. We are so grateful to have been a part of this amazing group of people. To have been able to touch others’ lives, and more importantly, have our lives touched is priceless. The Aquascape Foundation has given us a way to give back like we never dreamed possible.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi