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#Sahayili16 Reflections on the 2016 Summer Global Leadership Program

It’s been just over a week since we said farewell to the 2016 Summer Field Reps. Thanks to this group of amazing individuals, Saha partnered with 15 communities in Northern Ghana to open 9 new water treatment businesses and 6 new solar charging businesses, which provide jobs to 27 new entrepreneurs. 3,288 people now have permanent access to safe drinking water and 2,232 people have access to reliable, clean solar electricity. Additionally, 16 of our water entrepreneurs have now been trained to run solar businesses, increasing their earning potential!

Abby, Adeel, Alexis, Aliyah, Angela, Anita, Anna, Annalise, Arielle, Ashley, Audrey, Ayodele, Bethany, Bill, Chelsea, Christina, Davis, Diana, Erin, Eugenia, Greg, Jack, Jen, Jhoanny, John F, John H, Jose, Julia C, Julia R, Kanaha, Kate, Kathryn, Kelsea, Kevonté, Kristen, Laura, Lauren, Lexie, Lorry, Lucy, Mcrid, Micah, Molly, Morgan, Olivia, Rachael, Ryan, Sam, Savannah, Shuoyang, Swapnil, Taylor, Tim, Vivian, Wivine, Yanshu and Yi,

We can’t believe that it’s been 10 days since we packed our bags and loaded up together for the last time – surprisingly on time and without technical difficulties, a real Tamale miracle! We are so grateful for the energies, talents and passions that you brought to Saha, which were essential to the opening of these new water and solar businesses. It is no exaggeration to say that because of you, thousands of people are living their lives with more opportunities for health and happiness. It was a pleasure to work with each and every one of you, and we are so lucky to continue to have you as members of the Saha Team! As head off to your next impactful endeavors, remember your community and Saha, and let us know what we can do to further your missions. 

To quote Kpanshegu’s chief, as he related to Team Amin during their Chief Meeting, “There is currently a shift in the consciousness of the African culture to realize that they [the villagers] deserve it [clean water, electricity, education,etc.]. True knowledge is not knowing English or how to read or write, but rather it is the recognition of who you are and what you need to do; and if you explain that this [business] is theirs and that they need to work with you for it, that they will appreciate it and make it their own. And those who have knowledge and do not share it with others will be cursed by god whether they know it or not. It is your job with knowledge to pass it on to others and facilitate that change.” 

With gratitude,

Amin, Brianán, Eda, Eric, Kathryn, Katie, Peter, Shak & Wahab

Bamvim - Anita, Jack, Yanshu, Laura
Jack, Yanshu, Anita and Laura in the community of Bamvim

 

 

Audrey, Taufik, Taylor, Micah and Anna in the community of Baayili
Audrey, Taufik, Taylor, Micah and Anna in the community of Baayili

 

Dzorsah, Greg, Wivine, Jen and Abby in the community of Changbuni
Dzorsah, Greg, Wivine, Jen and Abby in the community of Changbuni

 

Kathryn, Annalise, Simply, Molly and Aliyah in the community of Dawunyili
Kathryn, Annalise, Simply, Molly and Aliyah in the community of Dawunyili

 

Mcrid, Arielle, Kanaha, Lexie and Nestor in Jukuku
Mcrid, Arielle, Kanaha, Lexie and Nestor in Jukuku

 

Kelsea, Lucy, Bill, Sita and Diana in the community of Kanjeyili
Kelsea, Lucy, Bill, Sita and Diana in the community of Kanjeyili

 

Ayodele, Olivia, Lorry in the community of Komlanyili
Ayodele, Olivia, Lorry in the community of Komlanyili

 

Jhoanny, Adeel and Tim (missing: Shuoyang) in the community of Kpanshegu
Jhoanny, Adeel and Tim (missing: Shuoyang) in the community of Kpanshegu

 

Erin, Alexis, Peter, Swapnil and Julia in the community of Kpingiyili
Erin, Alexis, Peter, Swapnil and Julia in the community of Kpingiyili

 

Yi, Savannah, Eugenia and Chelsea in the community of Mahmuruyili
Yi, Savannah, Eugenia and Chelsea in the community of Mahmuruyili

 

TJ, Angela, Jose & John in the community of Moya
TJ, Angela, Jose & John in the community of Moya

 

Christina, Bethany, Sam, Julia and Sumaya in Sankunpe
Christina, Bethany, Sam, Julia and Sumaya in Sankunpe

 

Ashley, Lauren, Kate, Amina and John in Tantuani
Ashley, Lauren, Kate, Amina and John in Tantuani

 

Davis, Rachael, Vivian and Morgan in the community of Warivi
Davis, Rachael, Vivian and Morgan in the community of Warivi

 

Rachel, Ryan, Kristen, Wahab and Kevonté in the community of Yapala
Rachel, Ryan, Kristen, Wahab and Kevonté in the community of Yapala

 

 

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