In loving memory of a grandfather of ELWA Radio
In June, ELWA suffered its first casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic, when we lost one of our senior Liberian staff, Rev. Henry S. Garmondeh, the Bassa language broadcaster on ELWA Radio. Henry had a very long history with ELWA. He listened to ELWA when he was a student at the RC Lawson Mission School in Grand Bassa County in the 1970s, where he became a Christian in 1976. When he moved to Monrovia in 1982, he started coming around the radio station to see how he might become involved in broadcasting. He followed ELWA’s Bible teaching programs and completed some of its correspondence courses. He also studied to become literate in his dialect, Bassa. Because of his strong interest, he developed a relationship with the ELWA Bassa broadcaster, JD Barnes, and spent time learning from him as a volunteer. In the midst of his pursuit of an opportunity to join the full-time staff, the 1990 war silenced ELWA Radio for over a year. When people returned to Monrovia to resettle, Henry returned to help at ELWA, visiting neighborhoods in Monrovia with “request sheets.” Before the days of cell phones, a primary feature on the radio were the “requests” to play a song and greet a friend or family member on the air, “in a public manner,” possibly to wish them a Happy Birthday or Anniversary. During the 1990’s war time, these requests were even a way to locate family members who had scattered in the fighting. However, ELWA Radio was not broadcasting in any Liberian languages for a few years in the 1990’s. In 2011, Henry was tapped to be the Bassa language broadcaster. He served in that role for ten years, preparing a twenty-minute broadcast each weekday, sharing Bible teaching, health information, and important news to those who might not understand the English broadcasts. Henry was one of the grandfathers of ELWA Radio, who was dedicated to the legacy of reaching out to Liberians in remote areas with the gospel in their heart language. He is greatly missed by our staff and surely by his audience.