Blog

Field Rep Voices – Team Swapnil, Erin, Julia, Alexis and Peter

Team Peter here reporting with an adventure in Ghana Time! We joke all the time that no day would be complete for our team without some sort of mishap to throw off our schedule, and today was no different. After previous baboon attacks, dumping contaminated water on our driver, and some stomach ulcers, today we have a car problem that blew all of our previous flat tires out of the water (pun intended).

We were on our way to the village after early morning mass and mosque for some team members when we woke from our naps to our normally calm translator screaming at us to get out of the car! We ran out so quickly that Julia forgot her shoes, but we all made it safely out…at this point, we could all smell the engine more or less burning. Apparently the wires had literally melted. Luckily, after a few minutes (during which time Swap and Iddrisu started working out at the side of the road), our fantastic program directors had made a bunch of calls and per usual fixed the problem with a new driver.

…until that driver also got a flat tire. Go figure.

DSC_0461

So, eventually, we made it back to our guesthouse, where we were in time for lunch (woo!). Julia is in love with jollof rice, and if you ever make it to Ghana, you have to try some.

FINALLY (after searching for the ever elusive Swap for like 20 minutes) we made it to the village with a new taxi. There, we got to do some monitoring of the water business we had just set up. We are so proud to be working with Sahada, Zenabu, and Miriam, and it was so exciting to see the community support them as well! Although there were a few hiccups with the households we monitored, it was good to meet face to face to deal with the problems directly. Two people were trying to find a time to fill their buckets, one did not understand that the water should be accessible to everyone in the household and locked it up, and one person had (ugh) tricked us into giving him a second bucket. Luckily, we were able to address all these problems, and we look forward to seeing even greater health for the village of Kpingyili in the future!

DSC_0971

Anyway, our normal taxi is back from the shop – we were missing Iddrisu! Wish us luck on our last day at the village. We are so honored to have been a part of the Global Leadership Program, and can’t believe it’s almost over. See you soon USA and Brazil!

DSC_0904

 

Field Rep Voices – Team Molly, Annalise, Aliyah, Kathryn and Simply

Opening Day is arguably the most exciting day for the village during the process of starting the water business. It is the first day that the community can purchase clean water. While driving through large puddles on the way to our village, we all were thinking that, because of the rain, the community of Dawunyili may have decided to collect rain water with their buckets instead of coming to the water center. As we pulled up to the village, we found we were alone with a bunch of goats.

Just as we started to get a little nervous that no one would come, we saw a blue bucket in the distance, balanced on the head of one of the women. One by one more women and children came with the safe water storage containers and before we knew it, Opening Day had started! The women entrepreneurs had everything in control. Gurimpaga and Abiba were washing each safe storage container while Amama filled the 20 Liters full of clean water and kept track of how many people bought water. While the women were effectively running the business, Team Simply fixed leaky taps and sat back to watch as each bucket was filled.DSC08355

By the end of the morning, we lost count of how many buckets were filled since we were caught up in the moment. Thankfully, Amama kept a tally of the people and we were thrilled to count the totals and realize that every single household from the village and the Fulaani came to get clean drinking water! Team Simply was “killing the game” (a common phrase used by the best team leader, Simply).

DSC08366

 

We have heard stories of gifts given to Saha Global on Opening Day, but when we saw that all of the community had filled the water containers, we realized how the community felt about getting access to clean water. Opening Day in Dawunyili village encompassed our daily interactions with the people in this community. It was perfect. Everything went well and the experience was fun, laid back, and overall joyful. Throughout the morning, we recognized that the village was excited to incorporate the water center into their lives.

DSC08424

Team Simply is excited to return to the village to monitor after a day off. In addition, we are excited to work with the younger kids and educate them about the importance of keeping the water clean in their homes.  It will be hard to leave this amazing community, but we know we have made amazing new friends that we will never forget.

 

IMG_1038

Field Rep Voices – Team Arielle, Lexie, Kanaha, Mcrid, and Nestor

Having been in Ghana for two weeks now, all of the new water and solar businesses are well under way. Generally, all of the field reps seem super excited, willing to learn and adapt, and grateful to be a part of such a rewarding experience. Despite continuous trouble-shooting and two team members falling ill and missing a day in the village, Team Nestor’s water project in the village of Jukuku will open Wednesday, June 15th. We have spent the last week building the water treatment center, training the women in how to use alum and chlorine as well as managing money, and distributing safe storage containers. Teaching the treatment process and the money management is one of the most vital components of the entire implementation process, but also one of the most rewarding as we see the women truly begin to take full ownership of their business.

 

IMG_0602

IMG_0633

Our next steps are to finish distribution, educate, and monitor following opening day. As we are near opening day it is incredible to see the whole village rally around the women, whether its them having heard of our work before we meet them or just being super willing to take part because they understand the importance of clean water. Being the largest of the water businesses during this Global Leadership Program session, we have had a load of long and hard days, but we also have had fun and enlightening days. At the end of it, we realize that our work with Saha Global is something we chose not because we thought it would be easy, but because it matters.

IMG_0560

Field Rep Voices – Team Greg, Wivine, Abby, Jen and Dzorsah

After a long, dusty taxi ride, we finally arrived in Changbuni, eager to establish a relationship with the community we would be working in. When we pulled up, many of the kids were already gathered, and even more came running when they heard news of our arrival. We introduced ourselves to one of the adults, who then, to our surprise, eagerly ran to get the chief from farming.

We (somewhat nervously) entered the chief’s hut, and went through the formal Dagbani greetings. This was the true test of how much we’d learned from Shak’s Dagbani training session a few days prior. We definitely stumbled over a few phrases, but the chief and elders seemed to appreciate our efforts nonetheless. Jen began explaining the Saha mission and the specifics of the clean water business we wanted to start. After the pitch, the chief said something that made us all realize what’s really special about Saha. He said that when we first arrived he thought we might be drilling a borehole or something mechanical, which has the potential to break. He said that he was grateful that this project fit the needs and wants of his community. Earlier, upon entering the village, we noticed a structure and tank for rainwater harvesting put in place by another NGO. When we asked the villagers about it, they said they had used it in the past, but it was currently empty. This made us realize that sometimes a simple approach is best. Rather than trying to replace their dugout with another water source, we hoped to give the community of Changbuni the tools and opportunity to be self-sufficient with the resources that they already have.

Dzorsah1

After the chief meeting we asked to see the dugout to take a water sample. Even in a taxi, it was a rather long distance. We took our sample and scouted a potential location for the center next to the dugout. Next, we went to see the river that the village uses in the dry season, when their dugout runs dry. We were warned with a chuckle that it was far away, but none of us were prepared for how far away it actually was. After driving the taxi for as far as the path would allow, we still had another thirty minute walk to the river.

Dzorsah3

Luckily it was a scenic walk

We took our water sample and started the long walk back to the taxi. It was humbling to experience even just a small fraction of the work women do on a daily basis to provide for their families, and frustrating to realize that the outcome of their efforts was still unclean water that made them sick. This experience added perspective and motivation to the work that we would soon be doing.

 

Samples in tow, we were set to leave Changbuni after a successful first day. First, though, we went to say goodbye to the chief. We told him our plan for the next day and began our goodbyes. Then the chief said something to a younger boy, who then left the hut. To our surprise and bewilderment, he came back carrying a live chicken. The chief wanted to give us the chicken as a token of the community’s gratitude. We were a bit shocked, but grateful, and thanked him for the gift.

Dzorsah2

We left Changbuni (with the chicken in the trunk with our translator!), satisfied with how our first day went and excited to come back!

Dzorsah4

Field Rep Voices – Team Sam, Christina, Julia, Beth and Sumaya

Yesterday, we completed construction of our water business in the village of Sankunpe. Construction involved the heating of screws over a fire started with leftover paint thinner, the chaining of blue drums to discourage theft, and some polytank plumbing work. To prepare the polytank to hold the water, Julia jumped inside the tank with a sponge and shea butter soap from the market and got the job done!

Once construction was finished, we commenced training the women entrepreneurs. We focused on alum training which is the first of the two steps in the purification process. Aluminum sulfate is a flocculent used to separate the sediment from the dugout water. In its usual state, dugout water resembles chocolate milk due to its high turbidity. The women were already familiar alum and took the alum balls from us and confidently stirred them in the blue drums.

sam

This morning we arrived in Sankunpe expecting to find three blue drums of clear dugout water with the sediment settled at the bottom. Much to our surprise, the water was still full of sediment. We did not account for how the turbidity of the water is higher at this time of the year. As the dry season comes to an end, the water levels of the dugout are low causing the high turbidity.

Sumaya1

We re-treated the water with our women entrepreneurs, explaining what had gone wrong, and waited another 30 minutes to confirm that the treatment worked. Tomorrow we will transfer the fully-flocculated water to the polytank to be treated with chlorine. Fingers crossed that we will be sipping potable water very soon!

 

Also, in other news… Sam fell madly in love with a goat named Regina.

 

Field Rep Voices – Team: Taylor, Audrey, Anna, Micah and Taufik

Sitting in the middle of Bayili’s humble palace, Team Taufik had agreeably one of the most unique experiences of our lives. It was our meeting with the chief and the elders of the community we were hoping to work with over the next couple weeks. After taking our shoes off, we stepped into his hut and squatted down and began the greetings. The elder we came into contact with first upon our arrival to the village, offered up the 5 cedes we had given out of respect. The chief nodded to us and began speaking in Dagbani. Unaware of exactly what was happening, but eager to be a part of the process, we mimicked the men and our translator by lightly clapping our hands and responding “Naa” to all their well wishes to our lives and our families.

IMG_0991 copy

Our team member, Audrey, gave our pitch confidently and eloquently and our translator, Taufik, bridged the language gap. They nodded approval throughout the meeting and were happy to move forward with the water sanitation business implementation. Yay! The next day we got to meet with the entire community and they also loved the idea. We are so excited and thankful for the opportunity to work with our village! Here are some other things that we have been very thankful for throughout our experience…

taylor

We are thankful to have an inside look at what an official chief meeting looks like.

We are thankful that our village has welcomed us into their traditions.

We are thankful for Taufik both for his service to this organization and his willingness to teach us the ways of Tamale.

We are thankful for simple solutions and the impact they can have on people’s lives.

We are thankful for our driver, Alhassan, because he not only drives us everywhere but also fixes everything. Literally everything.

We are thankful for the village’s excitement to help us implement this business.

We are thankful for cute kids and their curious, unashamed staring.

We are thankful for laughter because no matter what language you speak, everyone understands it.

audrey

Orientation Down, Next Step Implementation!

Akwaaba from Tamale! We are excited to have all of our Field Reps here for orientation before heading out to their own villages. The first few days have been spent learning Ghana history, Dagbani training (the predominant language spoken in the area around Tamale), and Saha’s approach to both the water treatment and solar electricity processes. Teams and translators were announced on the first day and their first activity together was spent running around town on a scavenger hunt. Congratulations to Team Simply for getting the most points!

 

simply

 

Next, our teams spent the morning at a village that was previously implemented in for water or solar. It was a great opportunity to see how the businesses run and the challenges and successes that different communities face throughout operation. In Wovugu, our Field Reps learned that the women entrepreneurs had issues getting people to buy water for a short period of time. They were able to solve the problem with the elders of the village to educate people about the need to always drink clean and safe drinking water! Everyone had a great time asking the women questions and playing with the kids!

group pic

dugout water

panorama

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!

To the 2014 Summer Fellows

 

1964882_736716316392912_3695791533619431533_nDear Jeremy, Selena, Cara, Brielle, Nicole S., Sarah S., Christina, Melissa, Claire B., Claire C., Josh, Sofia, Robert, Camille, Phoebe, Brandee, Elijah, Michaela, Abby F., Naomi, Danya, Ana B., Remy, Ben, Erin, Sarah R., Miles, Abby T., Kelly, Ann, Evan, Lexie, Kelli-Ann, Maggie, Haley, Caroline, Julia, Hannah, Nicole G., Ana CR, Alex, Katie, Sarah F., Linda, Lucas, and Nick,

It is hard to believe that the 46 of you are already heading home from Ghana this evening. 3 weeks has certainty flown by fast! It has been such a pleasure getting to know each of your during your time in Tamale. From the moment you arrived, you have impressed us with your knowledge, work ethic, and most of all, your desire to make a positive impact on the world around you. We are so proud of the work that you have accomplished during your time with CWS this summer. Thanks to each of you, 11 communities and approximately 4,000 people now have permanent access to safe drinking water and just over 500 people have access to solar electricity. 26 women entrepreneurs now have new businesses to run, and (thanks to your training), they are well equipped to handle any issues that may arise.

Thank you for choosing to spend the beginning of your summer working with Community Water Solutions. We are so lucky to have you all as members of the CWS team and can’t wait to see the incredible things that you will do for this world!

Sincerely,

Kate, Sam, and Brianan

GilBT

 

 

Voices from the Field: Team James (Sarah R, Ben, and Erin)

Monitoring, we’ve found, involves much more than monitoring. Every monitoring day in Wovogu brings new friendships and new challenges. Today was the third day of monitoring, and our second-to-last day in the village. It will definitely be hard to say goodbye to everyone we’ve met here!

Erin, Sarah and Ben with some of our new friends in Wovogu!

We visit around six households each day, and ask a series of questions about the water and how the safe storage container is working. Most of the safe storage containers were working, although two households reported leaky or broken taps, which we will replace. When we ask about the taste, they usually say “denyasa pom”— it tastes good.

IMGP0214

Sarah hanging with some kids from Wovogu while monitoring

The more households we visit, the more our entourage of children grows. They love to follow us from house to house, asking for photos and holding our hands. It can be pretty overwhelming at times, but they are adorable and it’s nice to see how excited they are to have us in their village.

We also make sure to look over the water treatment center itself and to check in with our fabulous women entrepreneurs, . They’ve been great at keeping the center running smoothly. A large number of the households had returned to the center to refill their safe storage containers.

Senatu and Abiba have been doing an awesome job running their water business!

Senatu and Abiba have been doing an awesome job running their water business!

There are some troubling rumors going around that the clean water might limit fertility, or cause a woman to only give birth twice. We’ve been doing our best to dispel these rumors and to make sure that everybody knows that the treated water will improve their health and the health of their children.

In addition to monitoring, we visited the school that Wovogu shares with a neighboring village. We filled one water-bottle with water from the treatment center, one with dugout water, and one with salt-water. We had the kids decide which water they shouldn’t drink. The turbid dugout water, with visible pieces of fecal matter, was an easy first pick.

The treated water and the salt-water both looked clear, so we had the kids do a taste-test. After one boy got quite the salty surprise, we explained that just because water is clear, it doesn’t always mean it’s clean. We told them that it is important to make sure the water in the safe storage containers stays clean— if it gets recontaminated, you might not be able to tell just by looking at it!

Checking out the CWS Fellowship Handbook at the water treatment business

Checking out the CWS Fellowship Handbook at the water treatment business

We also played Healthy Habits tag, which was a lot of fun. We reminded the kids that practicing healthy habits can prevent them from getting sick.

Tomorrow is our last day of monitoring. We’ll visit six more households, check in one final time with Senatu and Abiba, and visit the chief to say our goodbyes. While it will be hard to leave, we know that our entrepreneurs will be more than capable of running the treatment center and making sure that Wovogu’s drinking water stays clean and safe.

-Sarah, Ben and Erin

Voices from the Field: Team Sharifa (Miles, Kelly, Ann, and Abby T)

Hi All!

Yesterday, we spent our day off at Kantempo Waterfalls, about 3 hours outside of Tamale. Several of the translators came along, and everyone had a great time swimming in the falls!

On our way to the Kintempo waterfalls

On our way to the Kintempo waterfalls
The waterfalls

The waterfalls
Kelly and our translator, Sharifa!

Kelly and our translator, Sharifa!

Today in Janakpeng we completed our first day of monitoring after opening day. First, we met with our women entrepreneurs, Facina and Memunatu. We discussed their plans for their business, and asked them how they thought opening day went. They were pleased with the number of sales on opening day, but they think that since times are hard in the village and it is almost rainy season, they don’t expect as many sales in the upcoming weeks.

_MG_0370

Our awesome entrepreneurs, Facina and Memunatu!

Next, we visited 6 households to check their safe storage containers. Almost everyone’s bucket was full, which was great to see!

A CWS safe storage container!

A CWS safe storage container – raised from the ground, a clean cup on top, looks great!
Clean water!

Clean water!

We reiterated to each family how important it is to drink clean water and stressed the connection between water and disease. We received feedback from a few families that the water tasted too much like alum, so we talked to the women at the center so they know to use less alum next time.

Monitoring in Janakpam

Kelly monitoring in Janakpam

We also took samples from each household’s container. Since it rained yesterday, the women didn’t open the center again after opening day, so the Polytank is about 3/4 full and the women filled all of the blue drums. We had a great time playing with the kids – they tried to teach us some Dugbani words, and Miles taught them how to play tic tac toe. Overall, it was a great day of monitoring, and we’re excited for tomorrow!

-Kelly, Miles, Sharifa, and Abby T

Ann taking a sample of water to test in the lab.

Ann taking a sample of water to test in the lab.
Miles and Abby playing with some of the kids in Janakpam!

Miles and Abby playing with some of the kids in Janakpam!
Team Sharifa!

Team Sharifa!