My name is Caroline Collins. I am a twenty two year old senior about to graduate from Connecticut College. At Conn, I study biological sciences and anthropology. I am originally from Cohasset, MA which is on the south coast of Boston. I was lucky enough to participate in two of Saha’s global leadership programs. I first travelled to Ghana during my sophomore year for their winter program in 2013. I gained an incredible amount from being a Saha Global Leader and valued their program goals immensely. I was itching to return to Ghana, so when Saha announced that they had an opportunity for past leaders to return for the following summer program, I jumped at the chance! Saha was looking for Field Reps to help implement their water business model in Salaga, a new region for the organization.
My two experiences in Ghana were truly life changing and they have shaped my academic pursuits. One of my strongest memories is from my first trip, when my teammates and Shak, our translator were educating our community’s school children about the importance of clean drinking water and the differences between clear water and clean water. Educating children about healthy hygiene is one of Saha’s initiatives toward creating a sustainable clean drinking water model. So after we had implemented the water business, my team and I spent a day in the school teaching the children songs about clean water to help them remember healthy drinking practices. I distinctly remember a group of about thirty children singing and dancing excitedly about their water. One of the kids came up to me while we were all singing the clean water song and told me that he used to have headaches every day, but after drinking the clean water for a few days he felt so much better and was thrilled to have energy to run around play soccer with his friends. This was one of the most influential moments of my trip, as it was a direct and concrete example of the benefits that the clean water system will bring to the community.
My biggest take away from being a Field Rep is the power of little changes to bring significant impact. Before traveling to Ghana, the thought of bringing a water business to an entire community seemed quite daunting, however as a Field Rep, I learned that the procedure is really simple and with attention to education and prompting clean habitats my teammates and I were able to create a system that the community ran completely independently and were proud of. When I left Ghana after the program, the women in charge of the business were excited to develop the system and I knew that they would do a tremendous job building a sustainable source of clean drinking water for their community.
My time with Saha has encouraged me to study the connection between human health and the environment. I am particularly interested in bacteria and what environmental factors lead to the proliferation of bacterial diseases that pose a significant public health risk to developing countries. Saha gave me great experience in the field and has left my very excited to learn more about the prevention of waterborne diseases. I graduate from college in May 2015 and look forward to pursuing a doctorate degree in microbiology and environmental toxicology. Hopefully, this educational path will bring me back to countries like Ghana, where I can further study environmental health.
I have enjoyed staying in contact with Field Reps from my trip and my translators as well. There is an active facebook group where the Saha team and past field reps post about exciting things going on within the Saha network. It is great to stay connected with the incredible and inspiring group of global leaders as they go out and do interesting things around the world.
Want to learn more about Caroline’s experience or have any specific questions? Caroline would be happy to tell you more and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Also check up to see what Caroline is doing here!