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Field Rep Voices: Team Abby, Alexis, Ben, Jack and Sumaya

Life is often measured by how much someone has accomplished. Whether that be an accumulation of wealth, brains, or talent. These are the three main things people mention when being asked about what they want out of life. Does that necessarily equate to happiness? Happiness is something that is found within someone’s being. The people of Zakariyili exude pure happiness. The kind of happiness that we should all strive to fulfill by the end of our physical time on earth.

This all began on our first day in the village of Zakariyili. Ben, Abby, Jack, and me had answered the chief’s palace in hopes of having them open a Saha water business. The moment we entered the room, all the pepped up fear of how the meeting could possibly go, went out the window! The chief and the elders of Zakariyili held the kindest of spirits. Although our translator and our hero Sumaya was there to translate everything between the two groups, it felt as if we were speaking the same language. Their smiles, their love, their laughter, and their compassion became one with ours. The children were reserved yet willing to help in any way possible. From schooling Abby in soccer, to Sharifa being attached to Jack’s hip, to every kid having an instant connection with Ben. This lovingness that the children of Zakariyili hold is one that has been learned from their elders within the community. The Zakariyili men and women hold this love and compassion that everyone in this world could use.


This communal feel is one that is established by the women specifically. Women like Abiba, Awabu, and Amina carry a strength that is unprecedented. They essentially carry the community on their backs. Both figuratively and literally. I have never come across a group of naturally strong women who walk a mile’s worth to collect water for their families. There is something so beautiful and admirable about watching them fetch water and carry these heavy buckets on their heads… Effortlessly. During alum training, we had to step back because they did not need our training on how to use their hands. They were cranking out 3 alum balls for every half an alum ball we were producing.


Zakariyili will forever be in our hearts. The distance means nothing when a group of people have taught you how to care and love others without borders. Something that is not necessarily taught in a classroom. This is something that is within their essence. Their love, care, and compassion are by nature. It is a reminder that no matter where we are in the world, we are all running the same race together called life. The key component to this race is to learn from one another because that is what makes the race worth while. The people of Zakariyili taught us a valuable and memorable lesson. Laughter, love, and compassion are universal. There is no language for it. As a global community, we should try to incorporate these three key components into our everyday lives and maybe then, we will be able to grow together.

  • – Team Sumaya

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