Akwaaba from Pink Hostel! We are excited that the Winter Global Leadership Program is officially underway! Field Reps have been arriving all day and after numerous trips to and from the airport, 39 Field Reps are safely checked in and have just finished chowing down on their first Ghanaian meal – vegetable fried rice, chicken and a special green-pepper sauce. Tomorrow we’ve got an early (4am!) wake-up call, then it’s an all-day bus to the capital of the Northern Region (and orientation home-base), Tamale.
Three Field Reps, Jessica, Phoebe and Paige-Ashley, are still in transit, but our Assistant Program Manager Amin will make sure they get up North and oriented over the next 2 days.
If you don’t already, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@sahaglobal) to check out pictures of the Field Reps in action. More to come soon!
Ghana, it’s been too long – but I’m coming back! Nicaragua, same goes for you! This June will be three years since my time as a field rep in the village of Vogyili, and I am more than excited to get back to Ghana and explore Nicaragua as the new Operations Coordinator!
In May, I’ll graduate from Colby College with a bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental science, with a concentration in the environment and human health. I’m passionate about the health of humans, wildlife, and the environment, and how they interact (aka One Health). I believe that we need to focus on all three of these stakeholders in order to make improved global health a reality, and that’s why I love Saha Global’s model! The clean water and solar energy businesses focus on solutions to improving human health that are local, sustainable, and ultimately beneficial for more than just the immediate village impacted. My time in Ghana was the “aha” moment that sparked my passion, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to go back!
I think there’s great potential for Saha’s expansion to Nicaragua, and I can’t wait to find Saha’s niche. I spent a few weeks near Managua in the west of Nicaragua in 2014 teaching environmental science and implementing environmental health projects. Everyone I worked with there were as welcoming and friendly as Fuseina and Mary from Vogyili, the two women managing the clean water business I helped set up. I’m convinced the northeastern region of Nicaragua will be no different! It will be challenging to find what pieces of the Saha model work or don’t work in a new country, but I’m confident Katie and I have what it takes! I can’t wait until we begin our new adventures in Ghana and Nicaragua.
And now we will hear from Katie Spruill. (And yes we know this makes a Kate, Kathryn and now a Katie on the Saha Team). Katie will be helping us lead this Winter’s Program as well! Without further ado…
I am excited to be Saha’s Programming Coordinator beginning in June 2016! Since
participating in the Leadership Program in May of 2014, I have wanted to be a part of the Saha team. I graduate from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!!) in May of 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Systems Engineering and a Green Engineering minor. I have always been interested in international development and from the moment I learned about Saha Global’s leadership program, I knew I needed to apply.
In my first few days in Ghana, as a Field Rep, I experienced a roller coaster of emotions. I was very excited to be involved in helping so many people. At the same time, however, it was heart breaking to see these beautiful kids drinking contaminated water. Working with the women entrepreneurs, to build the water treatment center, was an incredible experience. We didn’t speak the same language, but I could immediately sense their enthusiasm for the project and their sense of community during our many meetings with the village. I will always remember Sanatu, one of the women entrepreneurs, grabbing my hands on our last day and asking me to never forget her. Forgetting her was never an option, she had made a bigger impact on my life than I could ever have made on her life.
Needless to say, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to serve as Saha’s programming coordinator. I am ecstatic to get back to Ghana and I cannot wait to start our work in Nicaragua!
When I posted our scouting trip recap a few months ago, we were still keeping our expansion country a secret. Now that we have let the cat out of the bag, I wanted to write a follow-up blog post to share more information about our time in Nicaragua.
After spending a week in Peru, Kate and I headed to Nicaragua. We arrived in Managua and took a small 8 passenger plane to the Northeast coast to a town called Puerto Cabezas, or as the locals called it “Port.” After months of research, we had pinpointed Port as a potential headquarter city for Saha to operate from and were excited to finally check it out. Althoug we had met and talked to many different people working in Nicaragua on the phone, bwe hadn’t set much of plan for our trip beyond just getting to Port. The goal of our visit was to get to as many rural communities as possible, but we had yet to figured out which ones, how we were going to get there and who was going to translate for us.
Strangely a week before we left for out scouting trip Kate re-connected with an old friend named Earl. Earl is a pastor who was born and raised in Nicaragua and currently runs an orphanage in Puerto Cabezas. Kate had visited this orphanage numerous times during her undergraduate work with the Nicaraguan Orphan Fun and Engineering Students Without Borders at the University of Virginia, but it had been 10 years since she and Earl had connected. Earl opened his guesthouse up to us and was extremely helpful as we made contacts in Port to help with our endeavor. He set us up with two translators, a driver and set up a meeting with his co-worker, Dustin, who has lead many medical mission trips in and around the area.
Within just a few hours of arriving in Nicaragua we had a set plan for our next few days. We packed up early the next morning and were off on a bumpy four-hour journey to Waspam. Over the next two days we traveled to 8 communities along the Rio Coco where we met with community leaders and performed household surveys to get a sense of their water and electricity access. Our initial feeling was that despite cultural differences, the set-up and dynamic in the communities that we visited were very similar to our partner communities in Ghana. Additionally, people were collecting their drinking water from surface water sources and using kerosene lamps to light their homes at night.
We left Nicaragua feeling confident that Saha could have a significant impact on the rural communities that we visited and believe there is a great opportunity for long-term work in the area. We are extremely excited to explore the area further to get a better grasp on what working there would entail. There is still a lot of research to be done– getting a better idea of the community dynamic, setting up our headquarter operations, finding local partners, plotting potential partner communities and finding local water and solar technologies are just a few of the many things left to find out.
Which leads perfectly into the introduction of our two newest Saha Team members who will help make that all happen: Eda Reed and Katie Spruill. We know these two ladies have the skills, pluck and go get ’em attitude that we need on our team for our expansion to Nicaragua. In June Eda & Katie will travel to Ghana. They will help lead our Summer Global Leadership Program and then stay an additional month to learn the ins and outs of our in country Ghana operations from the pros themselves, Peter, Shak, Amin, Wahab and Eric. We see this training process extremely crucial. We pride ourselves on our 100% sustainability track record. We believe that spending time with out Ghana team will help not only Katie & Eda to get a better understanding of our work in Ghana, but will also help them understand what will need to happen in Nicaragua.
Tomorrow I will hand over the blog to Katie & Eda. Welcome to the Saha Team ladies! Let’s do this Nicaragua!