Field Rep Voices: Team Amin, Brian, Gaby, Henry and Jessica

If you can believe it, we’re mid-way through the process of setting up our clean water business here in the outskirts of Tamale!  Over the past two weeks, there have been far too many experiences to recount in full, but one of the most memorable of the bunch has been finally getting to know our women entrepreneurs and training them on how to set up, manage, and eventually take over the clean water business.


Our team works in a tiny village called Lambo, with just 10 village households and 17 Fulani households.  It’s tucked away in a verdant grove, and is very much off the beaten path, leading to a scenic drive there but also lots of difficulties for our villagers when it comes to accessing basic resources.  In particular, their water situation was notably worrisome when we first arrived.  They are currently drinking out of a very shallow dugout nearby town that may dry up shortly if the rains don’t come.  As a result, the water quality is very poor – it is heavily silted, covered with a light layer of scum, and our tests came back showing that it was full of E.coli and other dangerous bacteria.


Fortunately, meeting with the chief and the community went smoothly – everyone was quite receptive to the idea and asked some great questions before welcoming us into their village to begin building the center.  The two women who were nominated to run the center are named Fuseina and Awabu, and both are strong in both body and spirit, incredibly attentive, and very much committed to the well-being of their families.

The process of training our women partners turned out to be relatively simple, as they have been dealing with household water their whole lives and intuitively understand the need for providing their families with clean water.  First, they fill our three 200L jerry cans with dugout water using their garrawas, the large buckets they use to fetch water, helping one another hoist them over their heads and pour them expertly into the cans.  Even with only two or three women filling the cans, we were shocked at how rapidly and efficiently they were able to move that much water around so quickly!  A true feat, as anyone who has attempted to lift 50 pounds worth of water over the heads could attest.


Once the jerry cans were full, we showed Fuseina and Awabu how to use alum, our flocculant of choice that helps the sediments in the water clear and settle to the bottom.  Many people in the North have used alum before in order to clear the water they use for laundry.  As a result, the women took to the task instantly, rolling alum into tight balls and barely needing any guidance on how to swirl the golf ball sized chunks in the cans with care.  Finding the right amount of alum to use is a bit of a tricky process – use too little, and the water doesn’t clear, but use too much and the water has a bit of a funky, chemical taste – so we urged our women to err on the side of caution.  As it turned out, the first go around wasn’t quite enough, so we had to add a little bit extra the next day, but no harm done.


Once the water had settled and cleared, and we’d lugged our big, 1400 litre polytalk out to the village and mounted it on the stand, the water was ready for purification!  Using smaller hand buckets, Fuseina and Awabu delicately scooped the clear, sediment-free water from the top of the jerry cans and poured them into the polytank.  We gave them a bag of starter chlorine tablets to use for the time being, and briefly explained to them that they only should add 1 big tablet for every jerry can of water that gets added to the polytank.  The two of them listened intently, nodding and making small comments to one other, before getting right to business.  Sure enough, the water came out clear and sterilized once poured from the polytank and tested, so we should be good to go for our opening day tomorrow – a huge achievement and a great testament to the hard work of our female entrepreneurs.


In all, it has been a delight to get to know the women who will be at the helm of our business, and we only have the highest hopes for them and their commitment towards providing their communities with clean water.  There may be some challenges and road bumps ahead – once the current dugout dries out, we’ll have to relocate the center to a different one nearby – but if the perseverance we’ve seen in our villagers thus far sticks around, they should have no problem getting the center up and running again.  So here’s to a future of clean water for Lambo!

  • Gaby, Jess, Brian, and Henry

Field Rep Voices: Team Cameron, Maya, Nick, and Sita

Team Sita has been having an amazing time training our two women entrepreneurs Mata Allason and Azzara Ebrah in the wonderful community of Vene. While the trainings took place on some of our longest and hardest days, we also experienced some of our most impactful moments during this experience. It was also amazing to see involvement from the whole community throughout the process. We started the first day by cleaning our three drums. A group of women got to work as soon as we arrived and we all pitched in to make sure that they were clean and ready for water.  Then, three incredible individuals each put a large drum on their head and they carried them to the dugout where our business will be set up.  A large group of children followed us to the dugout, along with many women from the community.  The women all brought their jerrycans and garawas and it was an amazing sight to see them all work together to fill up the drums with dug out water.  Once the drums were filled, we could begin alum training with the women. We taught the entrepreneurs and a couple of other helpful women from the community how to make the alum balls and then how to use the alum to get the particles in the water to flocculate.  When one of the women saw the particles coming together, she exclaimed “thank you, thank you, thank you!”. It was very meaningful for us to see how excited the community was once they began to see the very first results.  We explained to them that the process of the particles sinking to the bottom will happen overnight and that Team Sita would come back the next morning to make sure that the alum worked and that the water is clear.

Sita and Cameron hard at work cleaning the orange drums!

The next day, we were very happy to see that the water was clear and the community was very excited to check out the clarity of their water. As we were getting the Polytank ready, we ran into a problem with the tap and we were worried that our day might come to an early end.  Luckily enough, we were able to get some assistance from Team Shak who is working in a near by community.  Once we returned, we were able to train our entrepreneurs on how to carefully scoop the water from the drums (as to not disturb the sediment) and transfer the clean water into the Polytank. They quickly became experts at this task and it was meaningful for us to see them master this important skill. Once the drums were emptied into the Polytank, many women from the community all worked together, once again, and filled up the emptied drums with dugout water.  We taught the women how to use the correct amount of chlorine to put into water in the Polytank  and emphasized the importance of killing anything that may have remained in the water after the alum treatment. Once we finished the chlorine training, the women used alum again with the dugout water that was put into the drums. It was very exciting for us to see them do the process over again with very little training and to see their enjoyment in watching for the particles to begin flocculating. 

Dugout water ready for some alum!

Throughout the process of training our women, Team Sita has been able to form relationships with many of the wonderful children and adults in the village by playing soccer (preparing to take on team Shak’s village in a match on our final day), teaching each other English and Dagbani, and simply interacting with one another and appreciating each other’s company. On our way out, we took a sample of the water in our Polytank to test back in Tamale.  The tests came back negative and Team Sita, our entrepreneurs, and the entire community of Vene is very excited to drink clean water on opening day! 

Everyone pitching in to help set up the center!

Field Rep Voices: Team Alyssa, Ian, Jaleel, Laura and Samantha

Our team is assigned to a village named Kpachaa (silent K!), which sits slightly elevated from the surrounding verdant landscape. It is a sizable community, with around 70 households, a mosque (with a resident imam), and a large school. On Monday, we built the water business center. We strapped the Polytank precariously to the top of our taxi and embarked upon an off-road excursion down to the dugout, courtesy of our soft-spoken taxi driver, Quiet Ali (who according to our translator, Jaleel, drives his car like a tank). Upon arrival, we set about the business of cleaning the enormous Polytank. Our vertically challenged teammate, Alyssa, was deemed fit for the task of entering the Polytank and scrubbing it down. She obliged, even though the inside of the tank was essentially a sauna. We put large sticks down on either side of the tank and held onto it to prevent her from rolling away like a hamster in a ball.

Alyssa in the belly of the beast, scrubbing away at the polytank

Next, we rinsed the tank out with alum-treated water from our large drums, creating a small stream from business to dugout.

The stream of drained water chasing one of our entrepreneurs, Amina, as she goes to fill her garawa
Asana well on her way to filling the second “blue” drum
Ayi caught in the background of the children’s photos as she transfers the alum-treated water to the polytank

Once completely drained, the entrepreneurs scooped the rest of the alum-treated water into the tank and added chlorine Aquatabs. The four of us field reps occupied the women’s children as their mothers filled the tank. We enjoyed ourselves immensely, amazed when they drew out hopscotch, as we believed we had taught them this game the day before. As it turns out, they’ve been playing this game long before we came in, though they call it aberkatchee (completely phonetic spelling). After playing several rounds, we attempted to teach them duck duck goose, which presented its own challenges in trying to teach a game without the aid of language. One bright little girl picked up on the concept of the game quickly, and was able to explain to the younger ones when to get up and run. Once they all began to understand the game, their excitement grew—a bit too much—and the game descended into chaotic jumping.
While we were occupied by the younger children, two of the older schoolboys took off with Alyssa’s phone, taking pictures of whatever they saw fit. This included loads of selfies, but also included some really incredible action shots, both of their mothers working, and of the children playing. All in all it was a memorable day for the four of us in Kpachaa, and we have wonderful documentation thanks to these two boys. Contact us if you’re in the market for a wedding photographer….

Three of the women’s daughters and their contagious energy

Field Rep Voices: Team Elias, Meaghan, Raleigh, Sydney and Wahab

For the short attention spanned millennials out there, here is a haiku describing our day:

Put tanks near water
Changed the location once
Now we are Sweaty

Women working with orange drums in original location

For everyone else, here is the fun story of our day:

On Saturday, June 3rd, we, Team Wahab enjoyed our 3rd day in the village of Sahani. Our goal for the day was to choose a location for the water business and to put the Polytank stand and three plastic water drums in place. Going in to the day we expected the task to be quick and simple, but such was not the case….


The original dugout location

Even though it had rained the previous night, the original dugout was extremely low and it would have been tough to fill 3 orange drums with water. Our first solution was to fill 2 drums with dugout water and the third drum with water from the borehole. The borehole water was salty, but we hoped that diluting the water and adding the aqua tablets would lower the salt content.

The larger dugout

After talking with the children they showed Elias and Wahab a much larger dugout that was slightly further away, but had a good amount of water left in it. We were able to convince the women running the business that the walk would be worth it and they wouldn’t need to use any of the salty borehole water. An impromptu parade of community members of all ages helped us move the equipment to the new location.

The children we try to keep entertained

Over the next hour some of us attempted to balance buckets on our head to help fill the orange drums. Some of our team was in charge of keeping the kids entertained. Duck duck goose was a favorite, as well as follow the leader.

Filling the orange drums

Once the orange drums were filled, we added the alum to the chocolate milk colored water and watched in amazement as the sediment began to floc. We closed and locked the drums to let them sit overnight so the sediment could filter out.

The dugout water

The day was concluded by another village wide procession back through path in the forest and though fields back to the village. The chief’s wife informed us that they thought our names were to hard to remember so they came up with our village names on the spot: Raleigh – “Roakayo”, Sydney – “Sedina”, Meagan – “MaMuna”, and Elias – “Eelisu.” We accepted our names and exchanged farewell formalities with the chief of the village and went on our way – Din Nuna

Field Rep Voices: Team Ashley, Lizzy, Stew, Taufik and Taylor

Our first visit to Nekpanzoo was really exciting! We visited their river and 8 wells that they use for their water sources and took some samples. When we met with the chief of the village, we brought him cola nuts and passed them around. After pitching our idea of building a water purification center for people in his community, the chief was ecstatic to work with us. Our translator Taufik told us the chief was so thankful for us going to Nekpanzoo and that tomorrow we can have a community meeting where three women will be selected to learn how to purify the water, run, and own their own business within the village. The chief was so thankful he decided to give us a chicken as a gift. I thought the entire experience of meeting with the chief was really awesome. It was cool to be part of this cultural experience and hear the excitement of the chief and elders. Our team is looking forward to making a positive impact on Nekpanzoo! – Ashley Stein

Ashley holding the gifted chicken presented to our team


Coming into the village we introduced ourselves and greeted the Chief, asking permission to look at the village’s water sources. The Chief’s son Mohammed took us to see the river and we drove over a mile from the town to the water’s edge. The landscape was strikingly beautiful, green and lush, with a pale uneven ground that rose and fell with swirling patterns in the dirt. We climbed the gently rolling hills, taking in the greenery and bushes that lined the river, like something from a documentary. I listened to Mohammed explain how far the river would rise in the rainy season as he pointed to a branch on a tree that was above my head and gestured with his hands to the beginning of the dirt road we had driven down. I realized I was standing in a flood plain. A local fisherman cast his net into the river, pulling it out expertly and taking out fish. He placed his fish in a bucket and then went into the river to swim after his dinner. Mohammed took us on a tour of the village. We walked past the broken covered pump well that only had salty water when working and past the school to the center of town. There was a large pit in the ground open and only somewhat lined with porous rocks. Stew climbed down to gather a sample from the smallest puddle at the bottom. We continued on throughout the village to see the other 6 wells in the town, some protected with concrete, some small pits in the ground outlined with wood or tires, all mostly dry with a small amount of very brown water at the bottom. At the end of the tour, between our observations of the mostly dry wells and the mile wide flood plain we knew we were about to face challenges when deciding on the best location for the Saha clean water center. – Lizzy Merin

Lizzy standing by the river

We arrived in Nekpanzoo prepared to determine the viability of a water treatment center, depending upon water availability and community interest. Unfortunately, as we explored various different sources of water throughout the village, it became apparent that locating a functional site for the center could prove challenging. The Chief’s son explained to us that in the dry season villagers mainly gathered water from a local stream. However, when the rains came, they would flood the area around the river for a mile, but until that happened the wells in the village would remain mostly empty. The center is mobile, but timing would prove tricky. Fortunately, I was greatly encouraged by our meeting with the village Chief. After we explained our mission and plans for Nekpanzoo’s water, he responded enthusiastically. Despite the obvious challenges, he recognized the importance of enriching health within his community. Upon leaving the village, I felt confident that our team’s dedication to providing clean water, matched by the village’s hope for a healthier, happier way of living, could surmount any obstacles we encountered. – Stewart Coard

Stew taking a sample of the well water

Looking back on all we were able to accomplish on our first visit to Nekpanzoo, I am overwhelmed with immense feelings of joy and excitement for our upcoming work with the community and the eventual installment of our water treatment center! The most thrilling part of the day came to me moments before entering the Chief’s palace. I had been selected by my team to be the one member to “pitch” Saha’s mission to the elders, an honor I was I more than a little enthusiastic to accept! It was during those few adrenaline-filled seconds when I was removing my sandals and ducking my head to enter the mud hut, that the true gravity of what we were there to do sunk in. All morning we had been going around and taking unclean samples from the community’s water sources. Along the way we passed by homes where people had drums filled with dirty water, water they had specifically set aside to drink. There was no alternative drinking option, no clean water source for them to pull from – dirty drinking water was simply their reality. But luckily that reality was one they would soon no longer have to embrace, because our Saha team had arrived to share great news. After the formal greetings of welcome were exchanged in our meeting, I was finally able to share this life changing opportunity: “We are from Saha Global, we’re here to bring clean drinking water to Nekpanzoo!” – Taylor Gorycki

Taufik, Ashley and Taylor in the meeting with the Chief
Ashley, Mohammed, Taylor and Taufik walking through the floodplain

Field Rep Voices: Team Alex, Amanda, Peter, Zach and Zijun

With this post, we’re kicking off our “Field Rep Voices” segment for summer 17! What better way to keep you up to date with the progress of our 10 new water business implementations then to hear from our Field Reps themselves? Over the next few weeks, you’ll have the chance to hear from each team about the challenges and successes of all our new business. So without further ado, take it away, Team Peter!

It was a hot one, with the temperature reaching nearly 100 degrees. The cab ride is always an interesting experience, with four of us (all over 5’7) melting together in the backseat – truly living up to our team name, Team Sweat, also known in Dagbani as Team Wolgu. Upon our arrival in the village, the whole community was waiting for us. Suri, a small village of only twenty households, is a beautiful and quiet community. Our community meeting was a success – our women entrepreneurs were announced and many questions were asked. We were excited to see the level of community engagement, with many of the community members answering each other’s questions. Another exciting moment was when a few community members asked if they could purchase additional safe storage containers to have as much clean drinking water in their household as possible.

Our community meeting in Suri!


At first, the kids were shy and hesitant to come up to us, but they’re beginning to warm up. While we were painting the Polytank stand, the kids began to make their way toward us, curious as to what we were doing. We were hoping that everyone would go back to their daily tasks after the community meeting, but instead, all eyes were on us as we meticulously painted their stand, hoping that we didn’t miss a spot.

Painting the polytank stand


Painting the polytank stand continued!

After we finished painting our stand, we took another trip to the dugout, hoping that we wouldn’t run into any of the crocodiles that we’re told dwell at the bottom. While we were visiting the dugout, we encountered a group of Fulani women for the first time. They were bathing and doing their laundry. We were struck by how distinctly they were dressed, wearing colorful clothing and many pieces of silver jewelry and beads. The Fulani are a semi-nomadic people, who follow their cattle from place to place. They’re often seen as the outsiders by the village people, although they may have lived in a place for fifteen years, making their relationships more complex than it initially appears. Suri has a large population of Fulani and we are looking forward to getting to know them and understanding the dynamic more. Upon our departure from the village, we were treated to a basket of eggs from the chief and a marriage proposal from the linguist, which we politely declined. Twice. We couldn’t be more excited by the response that we received from the people of Suri and we can’t wait to move forward with the water business.

A gift of guinea fowl eggs from the community!


Team Sweat.


Updates From Our Newest Communities

Hello hello! Morganne and Eda here, sending a report straight from Tamale!

Monitoring has been busy since the end of our Winter Global Leadership Program (shout out to our #sahappytobehere crew!). As you might know, we opened our 100th water business in January, which means 100 villages to get out to and check up on! Here’s the latest from the first 2 months in our newest communities:


Village Full-time Monitor How’s it going? Center Status Household Visits Lab Samples
Defisa Amin, he visited on March 31st Jahama and Lukaya said sales are going well, however the dugout is very turbid so they have to use more alum to make sure the water is clean! Polytank is ½ full and the 3 “Blue” Drums were empty 5 out of 6 households had water in their safe storage containers The Polytank sample came out clear!
Juni Wahab, he visited on March 27th The dugout has dried because the rainy season hasn’t started yet. Wahab spoke to Jamila who said sales were going well and the women are ready to treat water as soon as the rains come! PT Empty and 3 “Blue” Drums empty No household visits because the dugout is dry No lab samples were taken this visit.  The polytank was sampled earlier this month and came out clean!
Kpumi Peter, but Shak visited on March 29th while Peter monitored our Salaga communities The water is getting very turbid but sales are still going well! Polytank is more than half full and the 3 “Blue” Drums were empty 4 out of 6 households had water in their safe storage containers No samples were taken this visit. The polytank was sampled earlier this month and came out clean!
Labariga Peter, but Shak visited on March 29th while Peter monitored our Salaga communities Fusheina said sales are going well and they treated water yesterday afternoon! Polytank is more than half full and the 3 “Blue” Drums are empty 4 out of 6 households had water in their safe storage containers No samples were taken this visit. The polytank was sampled earlier this month and came out clean!
Parishenaaya Wahab, he visited on March 30th Salamatu said some farming families have returned to Parishenaaya so sales have picked up a bit! Polytank is more than half full, 3 “Blue” Drums are empty 5 out of 6 households had water in their safe storage containers No samples were taken this visit. The polytank was sampled earlier this month and came out clean!
Tuya Wahab, he visited on March 30th Mohammed, who helps with the center when the women travel, said sales are going well and that the recent rains increased the water level in the stream! Polytank is more than half full, and 3 “Blue” Drums are full but don’t have alum yet 6 out of 6 households had water in their safe storage containers, YAHOO! No samples were taken this visit. The polytank was sampled earlier this month and came out clean!
Zuro Peter, but Shak visited on March 29th while Peter monitored our Salaga communities Abiba said everything is going well! Polytank is ¼ full, and 3 “Blue” Drums are empty 3 out of 6 households had water in their safe storage containers The polytank sample came out clean!




Peter monitors Kpumi’s water center

And our newest solar businesses:

Village Full-time Monitor How’s it going? Center Status Household Visits
Chihigu Peter, but Eric visited on March 28th while Peter monitored our Salaga communities Hawabu said everything is going well! There were 8 phones and 6 batteries charging at the center All 6 households had working and fully charged lanterns, yay!
Jagberin Wahab, he visited on March 27th Ramatu said sales are going well but some farming families have left because their dugout has become very turbid. As soon as the water level increases these families will be back and increase solar sales! There were 15 phones and 8 batteries charging at the center All 6 households had working and fully charged lanterns, wahoo!


Eric takes a selfie while monitoring in Chihigu


Special thanks to our Winter 2017 Field Reps who got these 9 communities off to a great start! Ti paya pahm!

Water Monitoring Sheet Revisions

At Saha we’re always adapting our model to better suit each community we work in. To do that we need good data! We’ve been busy updating our monitoring sheets to reflect the current status of each water business. New additions include a ‘last visit’ section (so we always have the previous visit in mind), more questions about savings/prices, and a ‘summary’ section.


We’ve started allowing households to fill different containers (besides the safe storage container) at the water center, including garawas and jerrycans. This allows families to skew the ratio of clean water to dugout water in their homes towards more clean water! In our monitoring chats we make sure to talk about how the SSC will always keep water the cleanest for drinking, but a jerrycan with a closed lid is a good backup for cooking, etc. Extra lab samples of these alternative containers is ongoing, and we hope to have data of their safe storage ability soon.


Take a look at our latest water monitoring sheet below!

Community Map


Despa Saha supporters!  We’re really excited to share our latest and greatest village map with all of you! Our old map needed some technology updates before we could get it up here on our blog. We are still working on integrating more up to date information with each community’s tab, such as the names of each entrepreneur, prices for water and solar charging, and other information we get from the most recent visit. We’re also hoping to merge our lab data with the map so you can all see the latest waterquality in polytanks and safe storage containers across all 100 of Saha’s villages. Stay tuned for more updates as we create our interactive village map!

#sahappy2behere – Reflections on the 2017 Winter Global Leadership Program

It’s crazy to think that less than a week ago we were saying farewell to the 2017 Winter Field Reps. Thanks to this group of awesome, driven individuals, Saha was able to partner with with 9 communities in Northern Ghana to open 7 new water treatment businesses and 2 new solar charging businesses, which provide jobs to 21 new entrepreneurs. 1,664 people now have permanent access to safe drinking water and 752 people have access to reliable, clean solar electricity. Additionally, 5 of our water entrepreneurs have now been trained to run solar businesses, increasing their earning potential!

Alex C, Alex K, Ann, Becky, Caleb, Caroline, Celine, Elijah, Erin, Joanne, Kalin, Kevin, Laura, Lexie, Louis, Matt, Maureen, Micah, Mona-Mae, Morgan, Nikita, Olivia, Qingyi, Sarah, Shaminika, Shane, Shanelle, Shannon, Terynek, Tess, Walker, Wyatt, Yu and Zulean,

We can’t believe that just under a week ago, we packed our bags and loaded up in front of GILLBT for the last time! We are so grateful for the excitement, enthusiasm, hard-work and positivity that you brought to team Saha. Because of you, thousands of people are living their lives with more opportunities for health and happiness. It was such a pleasure to work with all of y’all, and we consider ourselves lucky to count you as part of Sahayili! As you head off to your next impactful adventures, please don’t forget your community and all of us here at Saha, and let us know what we can do to further your missions. 

With gratitude,

Amin, Eda, Eric, Kathryn, Morganne, Peter, Shak & Wahab

And now … for the jumping pics!

Eric, Iddrisu, Erin, Qingyi, Sarah and Shane in Chihigu


Elijah, Kalin, Ann and Wahab in Defisa


Wyatt, Caleb, Joanne, Shanelle and Shak in Jagberin


Celine, Laura, Olivia, Matt, and Nestor in Juni


Terynek, Micah, Shannon and Becky in Labariga


Morganne, Mona, Simply and Alex in Kpumi


Walker, Shamanika, Sita, Lexie and Tess (not shown) in Parishenaaya


Louis, Alex, Caroline and Maureen in Tuya