Our time in Ghana is flying by, and we couldn’t be happier than to say that we’ve been spending our time in the amazing village of Zuro in Ghana’sNorthern Region. Zuro is a small village of just 13 households, but the people are extremely warm and friendly and have accepted us with open arms! Our first day in the community involved our team (with the help of our lovely translator Alberta) meeting with thevillage’s chief and getting his permission to start our business.
With his blessing, we moved forward step by step, and over the pastfew days we have successfully completed tasks like painting our polytank stand, assembling our safe storage containers, installing our drums and polytanks, and testing our dugout water as well.
(Don’t tell anyone but of course there have been a few surprises and snags along the way, but #WhenInGhana you learn to roll with the punches!)
Every day has lead to new progress for our team,and we havecontinued to forge new bonds with our village, especially with our incredible entrepreneurs Sakina and Abbiba, who couldn’t be more helpful and gracious.
We are constantly being surprised by the similarities that we all share, and how we can still communicate and work together, no matter the barriers, be they cultural, linguistic, or social, and achieve our goals.
As we quickly approach the opening of our water business later this week, we couldn’t be more excited than to continue to forge newconnections and bonds with the citizens ofZuro as we go from household to household distributing safe storage containers and explaining the benefits of drinking the clean water wehave worked so hard to provide. It’s crazy to think of how far we have come, fromhaving ZURO clue what we were doing in Ghana, to assimilating into our village and successfully creating a clean water business fromthe ground up! More to come! 🙂
As the Winter 2017 Saha Global field representatives have completed orientation in Tamale, each team recently went out to their assigned villages for the first time. In this blog post members of “Team Peter”, named for their translator and long-time Saha Global employee, reflect on their first encounter with the community of Labariga.
Becky: The implementation process so far has been a lesson in perspective. I was the team member to lead the community meeting a few days ago at Labariga, with the help of Peter translating. While the content I presented was similar to the material I told the chief and elders, the experience was vastly different. Looking out onto all the members honestly took my breath away. Gathered under the shade of a large and old tree, I explained why we were here. As I explained the difference of dirty and clean water, I saw understanding dawn on men and women to my left and right. I passed around tests that showed the presence of E. Coli in the water from their stream and then clean water samples. It was such an honor to be able to share with this community that we came to give them access to fresh, clean drinking water and to watch their faces as they learned this. To have my words be the ones that brought about this new opportunity was so profound, and I don’t think I’ll forget how it felt to be fully in that moment. From the outside looking in, it was a circle of people looking at these strange salamingas (foreigners). From my vantage point, it was a group of friends learning and growing together. But regardless of perspective, it was a moment that our entire community at Labariga will always remember.
Shannon: The most memorable moment for me was meeting the whole village for the first time. Seeing the faces of every man, woman, and child in Labariga connected me to the mission of Saha in a whole new way — it became personal.
I’ll never forget how they welcomed us into their community, literally bringing us into their circle as we talked about the water treatment center. Even though we could not speak the same language, I believe everyone could feel just how special that moment was. It was the beginning of a new chapter for us all.
Micah: Sitting on the edge of a circle with the whole Labariga community provided a glimpse into the nuances of their village life. As Becky spoke to the community about their water, I watched the people around us for hints about their customs. Some things were obvious: men and women sat on opposite sides of the circle; older people were given chairs while children sat at their feet and the young men and women stood behind (demonstrating a level of respect for age that often seems absent in the United States); all of the village elders sat around the chief. As the conversation continued, it became clearer and clearer that each of these community members understood some sense of a code of conduct, the intricacies of which escaped me.
When given the chance to ask questions, it seemed as though the whole community waited for one of the older women to speak before raising their own inquiries. Was this woman given such respect because she was the oldest, or perhaps because she was married to the chief, or perhaps because she had some special role to play in providing the community with water? Which woman was the mother of which child? It was nearly impossible to tell, as each kid moved seamlessly between the women, congregating now around one and then branching off to another. As I watched the people around me, I was increasingly aware of the fact that the people of Labariga were all operating under a nuanced set of roles which I could only guess at — out of everything we have done so far, it was the simultaneously the clearest and most mystifying look into the culture of our community.
Terynek: Everything I have encountered I have captured on camera. The emotion, I think, translated through visuals is more than words can express, and being able to capture special moments on camera is a lasting memory no one can take from you. You will always remember the exchange that you experienced.
We can’t wait to work with our entrepreneurs to get this clean water business up and running!
Throughout our short journey so far with Saha, the chief meeting seemed to be one of the more intimidating things on our agenda. If it went well, then you could proceed to work on your team’s mission of building a fresh water or solar business. If it didn’t go well then it would be very disappointing for your team and you would have to find another place to go. Thankfully, none of the teams had to do this.
Team TJ went to a village named Tuya and I was chosen to be the spokesperson to the chief. We basically had to pitch a business proposal which included what we would be doing, how we would be doing it, and what part the village would play in the business.
The day started by arriving at the village and finding the chief and elders to ask for a meeting with them. We knew there was a possibility that the chief would be away and that we would have to schedule for another day, so we started by asking some people if the chief was there. We were happy to find that he was there and we were told to wait where we were.
An elder approached us as we were waiting and we greeted him by squatting and greeting him. He said that he would call the others together for the meeting. Plastic chairs were brought out for us and there were benches available for the chief and elders to sit on. The whole village started to assemble and the chief meeting quickly turned into a community meeting. This put a little more pressure on the situation, but being in the presence of the people we would possibly be working with gave me the energy to present the business plan as well as I could. Seeing the faces of the children, the mothers, and the chief and elders made me realize how excited I was to be in Ghana working to make their lives better.
The elder who approached us before sat down with some others and our translator, TJ, asked if the chief was coming. To our surprise we found out that he was the chief. He hadn’t told us earlier when we first met him and seemed to laugh about it as if he had tricked us quite well.
I started the meeting by greeting the community and thanking the chief for allowing us to have a meeting with them. I explained to the community that the water they were drinking was very harmful for their health. They laughed at this because they knew that the quality of their water could be so much better. I then explained more about the business. The chief and elders said “naa” or “mmm” throughout TJ’s translation of the business proposal. It was so interesting to hear this as their version of agreeing with what I was saying or approving of it.
At the end of the presentation the chief thanked us for bringing our plan to them and that they were so excited for this opportunity. They believe that healthy water is so important. They agreed to pick two women, make a household list, and meet with us the next day. We then presented the chief with cola nuts and passed it around for everyone to have a bite of. It was an interesting moment to witness the customs of the Dagomba people, and it was deeply humbling to be welcomed into the community with such open arms. They even gave us community names: ti pag ya, nassari, tadadi, and wumpini (spelling on these may be incorrect). What had seemed like an intimidating assignment of meeting with the chief had turned into a great success and we left with an overwhelming feeling of joy and excitement to get started with the rest of our project.
This December, Morganne Hodsdon joined the Saha team as our newest expansion coordinator. Morganne will be working with Eda and the rest of the team in Ghana to help Saha prepare to expand in northern Ghana. She will specifically be focused on helping Saha better understand how frequently our beneficiaries drink clean water in their homes and how we can increase that frequency. Without further ado, meet Morganne:
After my first trip to Ghana as a field rep in June of 2015, I knew I wanted to come back at some point in my life, but I couldn’t have anticipated it happening so soon! Getting to revisit my solar village of Namdu 1 and joining the Saha team is an incredible opportunity, and I couldn’t be more excited and grateful for what lies ahead!
Similar to Eda, I graduated from Colby College in May so we will definitely be reminiscing on our chilly winters in Maine while living in the Saha house. With a bachelors degree in Economics and French I knew I wanted to pursue a career in international development, but wasn’t sure of exactly what realm of the sector I wanted to be in. While searching for summer jobs I found the Global Leadership Program, and my three weeks in Ghana ignited my passion to combat the global water crisis. Witnessing the devastating effects of waterbourne illness as well as Saha’s incredibly simple and sustainable solution to providing clean water access directed my job search. After graduation I spent time in New York as an intern at charity: water, where I was exposed to the fundraising side of non-profits. I loved getting office experience, especially with a water focused non-profit, but I am definitely ready to get back into the field with the Saha team!
As an Expansion Coordinator I will be assisting with the detailed monitoring efforts to ensure we’re doing everything we can to support the success of our businesses. I will also be running case studies with various villages to help us understand how households are using their village’s water, and how Saha can encourage clean water usage. Saha wants to ensure that the women entrepreneurs are profiting from their businesses and that no contaminated water is being mixed into anyone’s diet. The next several months will be a huge learning moment for Saha, and I can’t wait to see what methods prove successful to instilling safe and healthy water practices to all of Saha’s 46,510 (and growing) beneficaries!
Akwaaba (as they say here in the south of Ghana) to all our Winter 2017 Field Reps! Caleb, Wyatt, Erin, Sarah, Shanelle, Joanne, Shane, Qingyi, Louis, Micah, Caroline, Elijah, Lexie, Maureen, Tess, Yu, Mona-Mae, Alex C, Ann, Kalin, Matt, Zulean, Shaminika, Kevin, Walker, Morgan, Nikita, Terynek, Yueyue, Alex K, Becky, Laura, Olivia and Shannon all arrived safely throughout the day today and yesterday, even despite some Harmattan flight cancellations in Accra.
Tomorrow, the fun begins! Most of us are busing up to Tamale right now, and the late-comers (Shane, Louis, Sarah and Lexie) will bus up with Ghana Program Director Peter Friday! Then it’s orientation, so stay tuned.
You may have noticed we’re a bit behind on our Monitoring updates these days, but with good reason! Saha is revamping our data collection and distribution methods, which will make it easier for you to understand how all 93 of our communities are doing.
Saha’s growth in recent years is extremely exciting for many reasons, but during the process we outgrew our ability to keep up the old style of village-by-village monitoring updates. The goal in the coming months is to be more transparent with how our daily visits go, and have more comprehensive summaries each month for both water and solar centers.
But of course change takes time, so we hope you’ll understand the delays! Check back soon for more.
Several months ago we had a number of inquiries from recent Saha Global alumni about the availability of shirts, mugs, or other gear to show their support. After careful consideration, collaboration, polling, and number crunching, we have decided to make several designs/items available to Saha supporters!
By purchasing Saha gear, you are supporting the process that is at the heart and soul of program. That is, you envision an ongoing process of helping communities thrive, not survive. You support the process of educating individuals and the subsequent ongoing sustainability in order to build a business that meet their community’s basic needs and improve their quality of life.
The availability of these items is not limited to anyone! If you’re alumni who have been looking for a way to engage others about the work you did abroad – we’ve got you covered. If you’re a soon-to-be participant in the Global Leadership Program and you want to don some new threads while working in the Northern Region – look no further. If you’re a donor (past, present, future) and you support the ongoing work of Saha Global – grab a tee and share how your contribution helped combat the global water crisis.
But we wanted to do more than just sell gear, we wanted to make this campaign, which we’re dubbing #Sahaswag, interactive. If you are to purchase gear and upload a photo of you with your gear to Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook with the hashtag #SahaSwag, then you will be automatically entered into an ongoing monthly feature on our website! Selfies, serene settings, and of course, jumping photos, are all strongly encouraged.
What’s even BETTER about this project? 100% of the proceeds generated from it will be directed back into the ongoing programs to improve the quality of life of those in the developing regions in which Saha works.
We hope to eventually make gear available on an ongoing basis and we’re open to suggestions on what to make a staple in our inventory. In our Google Form, you will find a section at the bottom to include questions, comments, sizing suggestions, additional orders, etc. You remain a part of who we are and who we will continue to be, so your opinion is important! Thanks for your continued attention and support!
All of the newly implemented villages from the GLP Summer 2016 are running very well!
The following villages had 6/6 during at least 1 visit: Sagbarigu, Naha, Galinkpegu, Warvi, Moya, Tindan II.
Kalinka, Moya, Komonaayili, Gburma, Kushini and Kagburashe are planning ahead to move their centers as their dugouts are getting flooded.
There are 18 new households (16 Fulani) in Tunga and Peter gave them safe storage containers.
The entrepreneurs of Kushini plan to open a bank account soon!
As it’s the rainy season, most of the villages have low sales with their water business because people are harvesting rainwater.
Villages that have problems with their water businesses are:
Chandanyili, Tijo, and Laligu have dry dugouts, and their centers are closed. Chandanyili plans to move the center to a new dugout. Djelo and Sagbarigu polytank taps were leaking and they couldn’t treat water, but that is fixed now. Kalinka and Chandanyili polytank taps broke and have been fixed.During lab testing week some households came out with total coliform and E. coli. Staff followed up with households that came out with positive results and give advice.
Villages with problems with their solar businesses are:
Kurugu Voyili, Djelo, and Vogyili complain of lamp batteries problems. They don’t last long after charge and sometimes people don’t want to pay for batteries that are not well charged. The door to Djelo solar center is broken by a storm and needs to be fixed. Two families in Chani have purchased batteries for their lamps, and some other people in that village want to buy batteries too. Nekpegu and Chani have complaints about their lamps and lamp batteries. Yapalsi has a genset problem but they have electricity now. It was mentioned that Kpanshegu had some households complaining of not getting lamps during implementation and Amin is to find out from the assembly man why their names were omitted from the household list. Bamvim solar center was leaking and has been fixed now. With Solar, Kurugu Vohoyili batteries are dead and Nekpegu have no battery chargers as all are broken. There is a plan to have a meeting in Nekpegu with the community to discuss price for charging phones as women entrepreneurs complain.
Clean Water Entrepreneurship Program in Ghana Earns Prestigious Support for Saha Global’s Co-Founder
$100,000 Fellowship Grant Awarded to Boston Visionary Kate Cincotta
BOSTON, MASS. (Issued Fall 2016)— Dagomba people in the African country of Ghana use the Dagbanli word saha to mean ‘opportunity.’
A major opportunity to use this word in the country’s rural areas the arrived with the launch of Saha Global (www.sahaglobal.org) in 2008. Co-founded by Kate (Clopeck) Cincotta andfellow MIT graduate Vanessa Green, Saha Global’s frontline work is entirely in Ghana. A small Boston staff handles volunteer recruitment and fundraising.
Saha provides cheap, clean drinking water to people living in rural communities by training women how to take advantage of the resources available to them and donating the capital that they need to start a clean water business. To date, Saha has launched 93 water businesses in Ghana. 100% are still in operation.
The Vision: A Better Life for Children
In recognition of her work, the Mulago Foundation of San Francisco chose Cincotta to join itsprestigious Fall 2016 Rainer Arnhold Fellows Program where participants “focus on their ideas and a systematic way to apply them. Saha is receiving two $50,000 grants — a total of $100,000 over two years. Founded in 1993, Mulago carries on the work of pediatrician/philanthropist Rainer Arnhold, “to bring a better life for children in poverty… (to support) organizations that tackle a basic need of the very poor, have a scalable solution, and know how to deliver it.” That’s exactly us!” smiles Cincotta, pointing to the organization’s motto, ‘Solving problems with opportunities.’
The course brought Fellows and faculty together for an intensive week to work on design for maximum impact and scalability. Held in Bolinas, California, the course gave Fellows the rare opportunity to focus completely on their ideas and a systematic way to apply them.
What caught the attention of Mulago?Cincotta says it’s Saha’s 100% success rate, simple approach, and commitment to long-term monitoring and evaluation.
Creating A Permanent Source of Clean Water
Cincotta says, “Saha is the first water organization selected by Mulago for the Fellows program. We both believe that Saha cannot only serve the poorest of the poor, but we also have the potential to scale. The key is simplicity. Our water treatment centers use all locally available, affordable, low-tech products. It costs Saha less than $12 to provide a permanent source of clean water to one person. Other organizations average around $20 – 25 per person.”
Reflecting on the course, Cincitta says, “Mulago is different than any other funder we’ve had. They are a true partner in every sense of the word. They want to work with us to help us grow and achieve maximum impact, and understand that there will be challenges along the way.”
She adds, “We’re really proud of the impact we’ve had so far: Over 45,000 people in Ghana now have permanent access to safe drinking water.” But there are 800,000 in Northern Region Ghana who still lack access to clean water. Fueled by its partnership with Mulago, Saha’s goal is to rapidly scale in northern Ghana, doubling its impact by 2018, to reach over 400,000 people in the next 5 years.
Still Facing Tough Challenges
Saha Global certainly chose two of Ghana’s toughest challenges: (1) There’s a very high risk of food or waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever; and (2) The biggest single economic issue is the lack of consistent electricity. Things are improving, though average life expectancy is just 66 years, per capita income is $4,300, and the 2015 inflation rate was 17%.
Green and Cincotta understood that the water needs in Ghana were not due to a lack of technical solutions. “We knew the challenge lay in the implementation of those solutions in the field. We developed a durable implementation model, community-scale, low-tech, social enterprise approach that formed the foundation of Saha Global’s model.” They raised funds to pilot the idea from the Public Service Center at MIT, then headed back to Ghana in 2008 to found Saha Global.
In another project, Saha is helping local entrepreneurs use solar energy to light lanterns so children can study at night, and to charge cell phones – also for a small profit.
Twice each year, Saha Global recruits and trains scores of college students in social entrepreneurship. Volunteers spend three weeks in Ghanaian villages helping to set up micro-businesses. In each village, the community designates two women to learn how to chlorinate water and sell it to fellow villagers for a small profit.
College students interested in being Field Reps in Ghana can learn more at the Saha Global website. Saha Global also seeks individual donations, Corporate Partners and Field Rep Sponsors. For more info, email email@example.com or visit www.sahaglobal.org.As a 501(c)(3) organization, donations are tax-exempt to the extent allowed by law. Donations may be made online or via check made out to Saha Global, and mailed to 26 West Broadway #302, Boston, MA 02127.
My name is Jeremy Lakin and I’m originally from Reading, PA. After graduating from high school in Lancaster, PA I moved to NYC to attend NYU. I graduated in May 2015 with a BA in politics and Romance Languages. While I was lucky enough to be introduced to the water and sanitation through an internship at charity: water I really wanted to get first hand experience working with populations affected by a lack of access to clean drinking water. I found Saha on a whim when I was looking for jobs after college and immediately fell in love with Saha’s mission and model, particularly its dedication to monitoring.
I went with this past winter group in 2015-2016 and worked in a village called Futa, about 45 mins away from our home base in Tamale. One of the moments that I will never forget is visiting this one household a few days after we opened the clean water business. The woman that lived there told us that she recently had a visitor from Tamale visit her. When she offered him water he turned it down at first, but when she showed him she had clean, safe drinking water he was amazed. The smile on her face and the pride she expressed is something I’ll never forget. It really put the water crisis into new perspective for me. It isn’t just a health crisis, but a crisis of dignity and pride, and Saha addresses all of these needs.
I’m so grateful for this opportunity because it gave me invaluable field experience. All the reading and classwork can’t prepare you for being the first foreigner a child meets, or how to react when your polytank springs a leak. This experience affirmed my desire for a career in international development. I recently finished a six month internship with Global Health Corps. I’m a finalist for Global Health Corps’ highly selective fellowships and have been accepted to SIPA at Columbia thanks in great part to Saha Global.
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions about the Saha Global Leadership Program at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more about me and check in to see what I’m up to now here!