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#sahawaterworks – reflections on the summer ’18 program

It’s been just one week since we said goodbye to the 2018 Summer Field Reps. Thanks to this awesome group students and young professionals, Saha was able to partner with with 6 more communities in Northern Ghana to open new water treatment businesses. Because of them, 2,356 people now have the ability to drink clean water each day. 26 women entrepreneurs are able to provide potable water to their friends, family and neighbors through  community-supported small businesses. And Saha is able to welcome 24 new faces to our global Saha family!

Abby, Abby, Alexis, Ariel, Ben, Bennu, Cèline, Chase, Corey, Dai, Emma, Fiona, Griffin, Jack, Jean, Julie, Lexie, Lindsay, Mary Reade, Michael, Muriel, Sam, Samantha & Victoria:

Can you believe it? We sweat through taxi breakdowns and laughed through luggage pepperoni foibles. We rolled alum balls on the porch and rolled with the punches more generally. We navigated the market and the ins and outs of a new-to-us culture. Most importantly, we found joy and success in the surprise of the unanticipated. Though not every moment was easy, all the (literal) blood, sweat and tears certainly paid off. 
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 adventures, please don’t forget
Dalibila, Jegun, Kpalkore, Nafarun, Zakariyili and Zobogu
and all of us here at Saha, and let us know what we can do to further your missions.

With gratitude,

And now… the jumping pics.

Team Cèline, Evans, Julie, Chase & Michael (not pictured) in Nafarun

 

Team Bennu, Emma, Eric, Gaffaru, Victoria and Abby in Zobogu

 

Team Corey, driver Hustla, Griffin, Samantha and Mary Reade in Dalibila

 

Team Fiona, Jean, driver Sadiq, Lexie and Samantha in Kpalkore

 

Team Abby, Jack, Alexis and Ben in Zakariyili

 

Team Ariel, Lindsay, Dai and Muriel in Jegun

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

Field Rep Voices: Team Al-Amin, Ariel, Dai, Lindsay, and Muriel

“A Color of Hope”

Within our first couple days spending time in Jegun, Ariel, Dai, Muriel and myself (Lindsay) had completely fallen in love with the patience, capability and kindness the Jegun women as we began our journey of building a clean water treatment center.  Our days spent in the market were hot and sometimes tested our own patience but perseverance pushed us to strive for the best so we could help bring clean water resources. During our time in the market we decided that our direction for creating a unique water treatment center was to make it as colorful and empowering as the women we worked with. From that point on we would jump at the chance to add any color that Mariama, Bibi, Rahama and Adamu would love to incorporate within their business.

As we finished building the center, and added our own flavor with the help of our amazing women entrepreneurs, we took a step back and gazed upon the beauty of a new wave of improving Jegun’s health. A Color of Hope signifies more than just clean water for this team and women entrepreneurs, it ensures a future for this village.  The hard work these women put in every day will pioneer the success and future of this village even further. A future all of us hope to return and see one day. Our experiences and interactions with the Jegun people have filled our hearts and there is nothing we would trade that for, except maybe a lifetime supply of mangoes ;).

Field Rep Voices: Team Abby I., Bennu, Emma, Eric, and Victoria

Today marks our team’s fifth day in Zobogu, Northern Region Ghana! During our first visit in Zobogu (pronounced Zog-bwow) on June 4th, we had a truly surreal experience. When our team pulled into the village after a short drive from central Tamale, the first person we met happened to be the Chief’s linguist or official right hand man. We spoke briefly with Zobogu’s sub-chiefs who warmly allowed us into their village. Within 20 minutes we were able to meet with the Chief! During this meeting we asked if we could take a water survey, and speak to a couple of households in Zobogu about the water they use for cooking, cleaning, and most importantly drinking. We found that almost every person that we spoke to had an understanding of how detrimental dugout water was to their health, and emphasized that using the dugout was their only option.

We immediately agreed that Zobogu would be a perfect place to launch a Saha water business. That day we had a proposal meeting with the chief that went exceptionally well. June 4th was the mark of a blooming connection between our team and the people of Zobogu that has only gotten stronger. The next day we met with the community women and were able to choose our women entrepreneurs immediately. The women were so excited by the advent of clean water that Azaratu, one of our Saha entrepreneurs, jumped up and volunteered herself to be a part of the team. Our four dynamic entrepreneurs are Azaratu, Afeshetu, Abiba, and Adamu.

Clockwise from top left: Afeshetu, Azaratu, Abiba, and Adamu

 

Our dope translator Eric and multitalented driver Gaff have helped to deepen and establish our relationship to the people of Zobogu.

Eric with the entrepreneurs

As a result, our team has been able to make rapid progress even when mildly impeded by challenges. Saha’s unofficial motto is “What can go wrong will go wrong” and we have been able to breeze through everything that has “gone wrong” (having to re-clean the drums that we use to treat the dugout water in the blazing sun) because we have established a true partnership between our entrepreneurs. They are trusting of the information that we share with them and in turn, our team has learned from these strong, wise, and intelligent women who are passionate about improving the health of their community every day.

The team! Emma, Eric, Bennu, Abby, and Victoria with Zobogu’s chief and linguist

Field Rep Voices: Team Amina, Corey, Griffin, Mary Reade, and Sam P.

“Fula-what?” we all thought on the first day. Kathryn, Rhiana and Amin were in the midst of explaining how village operations normally work while we were still in Accra and dropped something new on us: the Fulani people. The Fulani are a group of nomad cattle-herders located in most villages across Ghana. They all travel by foot all around Western Africa (Cote D’Ivoire, Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso) in order to find land for all of their cattle to graze. Financial status among the Fulani is determined by the sheer size of their flock and how developed the cows appear. Since they’re nomadic, their homes within their village are only temporary and normally located far away from the village center, which means they have to walk the farthest to the Water Treatment Center and coincidentally are our best customers!

Our first encounter with the Fulani was on our second day of working in Dalibila, at the community meeting. During this meeting, we were able to get a list of all of the people in the village. From then on, our group worked to construct the Water Treatment Center, train our entrepreneurs and endlessly entertain the Dalibilian kids.

In the days that followed, our team worked hard to purify the nasty dugout water. On the day that we did alum and chlorine training with Azara and her team of 3, the kids also brought out a ball, the first ball we’d seen since we’d gone to work 3 days earlier. The makeshift ball was made out of tape, plastic and leaves, but nevertheless the kids had themselves a day playing Who Can Kick the Ball Hardest and a hearty session of Taps. While Mary Reade was killing it doing the financial training, Sam and Griffin were helping scoop the alum water into the poly tank, and Corey was demonstrating how to roll an alum ball, the kids, worn out from tape-ball games, ran to the dugout, passing our soon-to-be-clean water source and stuck their heads into the dugout water, drinking until quenched. We were speechless and ready for these innocent kids to have something healthy to drink.

Love,

Team Amina (Corey, Griffin, Mary Reade and Sam P.)

“Ghana is a Cool Place to Be” a poem by Corey Castellanos

Day one was rough
Ants entered the pants
The battle with him was tough
And his bites had me in a trance

Next day was better
We were off to our town
Dalibila is the name
And a place where no one likes to frown

Actually that’s a lie
Because there is a grumpy baby
You’ll never hear him cry
He just looks at us like were shady

The other children watched
Some of them confused
Thankfully there was a tape soccer ball
That ignited an interactive fuse

Amina is the best
She is our translator
Her attire will always impress
We all get sad at “see you later”

In the village
They only speak Dagbani
And down the way
There are people called Fulani
The love of my life is there
But she does not want me

Seeing the dugout water
Sometimes makes me sad
But it really makes me happy
Knowing that some people give a damn

Alum is the key
It makes the dirt become clean
It works just like magic
Acting like a non-hot steam

I love all the smiles
They make me feel wild
Its crazy that all these small steps
Have added to a mile.

 

Field Rep Voices: Team Fiona, Jean, Kamil, Lexie and Samantha

Despa!

Every morning starts with an early wake up call, an hour taxi ride, and a warm greeting from the village of Kplakore! Our team, comprised of Fiona, Jean, Lexie, and Samantha, have been loving the experience of serving our village and implementing the clean water business.

It is so crazy to think that a couple short weeks ago, all the field reps were landing in Accra and just getting to know each other! After meeting and getting to know the field reps, we took an all day bus to Tamale to begin the real action. From the moment we arrived in Tamale, everyone hit the ground running and started working towards our goal of providing clean and safe drinking water. We are close to our opening, day and as it continues to get closer, the excitement continues to mount!  We’re working with three members of the community as Team Kamil’s entrepreneurs: Hamdia, Salamatu, and Yahaya, who have been working hard to provide for their community and make important decisions about the business.

The experience of being in Ghana as a whole, meeting field reps from all different backgrounds, and working along the community members of Kpalkore has been incredible and absolutely life changing. Saha Global has provided the opportunity for the group of us to combine with our amazing translator, Kamil, and awesome taxi driver, Sadiq, to work towards the goal of providing clean water to our village, with so much fun along the way!

Kpalkore’s entrepreneurs, Hamdia, Yahiya, and Fuseina roll alum balls
Collecting water for treatment
A shady spot for the treatment center

 

Group shot in Kpalkore!
Kpalkore dugout is where people currently go for their drinking water. Not for much longer!

Field Rep Voices – Team Evans, Céline, Chase, Julie and Michael in Nafarun

It’s that time again! Summer ’18 Field Reps, aka Group #SahaWaterWorks18, has been busy working in 6 new Saha partner communities. Up first to tell their story of their time so far in Nafarun is Team Evans, Céline, Chase, Julie and Michael. Take it away, Team Evans!

So picture this. It’s day three in the Nafarun village and our team is starting to fill up the three 200L drums. We have to wade into the shin-deep, murky dugout water to fill up our buckets. Our women entrepreneurs, Abiba, Ashetu, Rafatu, Hawa, Rukaya, and Nafisa, are gathered around us also carrying water, but mostly watching us struggle. The women laughed, asked for our buckets, and proceeded to dump out the water we got and fill it up with less-murky surface water. Julie decided to try balancing the water on her head and unsuccessfully sloshed water all over her. The women and children around us roared with laughter as she struggled to walk the small distance to the blue drum. Nafisa, the young women entrepreneur walking with her, held her (much larger) bucket with ease – and with no hands!

This moment was just one of the few incredible times of community, shared laughter, and learning in Nafarun. Whether our translator Evans was corralling the children to play a huge came of football (soccer) or our driver I.B. was bumping to Usher, our team loved to have fun while working in Nafarun. In one game of football, one 10-year-old boy kicked the ball at Michael’s head, giggled, and ran away. A few minutes later, the same boy hit Michael again and giggle-ran away again.

We’re currently at day four in the village, and so far we’ve set up our entire business and are in the process of training the women on money management, safe storage containers, and chlorine use. The chief meeting and alum training went really well, and the chief and elders were extremely excited to hear from us. Unfortunately, we had to dump out the water from the blue drums three different times as there was a layer of oil remaining from the drum sellers. Other than that, we are right on track for our community meeting and opening day!

Everyone in the village loves getting involved, from the children helping us clean, the men moving drums, and of course, the women running the business. We’re confident that when they open their business in a few weeks they’ll do a great job of keeping it open and bringing clean water to every household in Nafarun!

  • -Team Evans

 

 

 

 

#saharmattan – reflections on the winter ’18 program

It’s been just over a month since we said goodbye to the 2018 Winter Field Reps. Thanks to this awesome group students and young professionals, Saha was able to partner with with 4 more communities in Northern Ghana to open new water treatment businesses. Because of them, over 1,000 more people now have the ability to drink clean water each day. 16 women entrepreneurs are able to provide potable water to their friends, family and neighbors through  community-supported small businesses. And Saha is able to welcome 15 new faces to our global Saha family!

Alexa, Amber, Amy, Annie, Bronte, Dan, Hadley, Jill, Juliette, Justin, Rhiana, Taylor, Tiffany, Victoria, and Yaa:

We did it! We powered through the unanticipated busses and breakdowns and survived the first hours of 2018. We rolled with the punches and found joy and success in the unexpected! Though not every moment was easy, all the (literal) blood, sweat and tears paid off. 
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 adventures, please don’t forget
Kujeri, Namvili Guma, Nomnayili & Nyantag
and all of us here at Saha, and let us know what we can do to further your missions. Stay tuned for 1st month business updates this week, right here. 

With gratitude,

Amin, Blessing, Dzorsah, Eda, Eric, Heidi, Kate, Kathryn, Morganne, Nestor, Peter, Shak, Simply, Sita, TJ and Wahab

And now… the jumping pics.

Team Justin, TJ, Rhiana and Amin in Nyantag
Team Yaa, Sita, Juliette, Dan, Taxi Driver Gaff and Taylor in Nomnayili
Team Victoria, Annie, Amber, Taufik and Alexa in Navaili Guma
Team Dzorsah, Bronte, Jill, Hadley and Tiffany in Kujeri

 

Field Rep Voices: Amy, Justin, Rhiana and TJ

Three Weeks in Nyantag
“May God bless you.” It’s a short and simple prayer we have often received from many of the villagers in Nyantag these past three weeks. “We knew that the dugout water was unsafe to drink,” said one woman, “but it was the only option we had. We are thankful that our children can now drink clean water and will not have to drink the dugout water that we’ve always had to drink.”
In just three weeks’ time we have met with Nyantag’s chief and his elders, trained women entrepreneurs from their village, and watched these women have a successful opening day for their new clean water business. We have made friends amongst the children while playing soccer and tag, and we taught them their new favorite game, “Duck, Duck, Goose.” We have been sent off with the trunk of our car full of yams, a staple crop from Nyantag’s fields on three separate days.
Some of the village’s children

 

Teaching kids at the village school about the importance of drinking clean water.

 

We have enjoyed our three weeks working with Saha. We accomplished our goal and helped start Saha’s 118th clean water business in the Northern Region. We leave in just a few days knowing this business is in the good hands of our entrepreneurs, Naiyla, Maymunatu, Borobiche, and Janaba, along with the Saha monitors who will continue to provide support for the next ten years.
The entrepreneurs running the clean water business
To conclude, we would like to say thank you to our supporters who contributed toward the startup costs of Nyantag’s clean water business. Know that your donations have been well spent, and the population of nearly 1,000 people are very grateful. The villages that Saha has worked with have reported improvements in health since their clean water businesses have opened. Now it’s Nyantag’s turn to reap the benefits thanks to your support.
The water business on opening day
Our team.
– Team TJ

APPLY TO BE A SAHA FIELD REPRESENTATIVE

Applications for the Winter 2018 Global Leadership Program close October 25th, 2017. Click here to stay updated.

The Global Leadership Program is a three-week water-education and leadership-training program, which takes place in Northern Region Ghana. The purpose of the program is to teach individuals about the global water crisis, and inspire them to become leaders in the field of international development and water management. Field Representatives are grouped in teams of four and paired with a rural community in Northern Region Ghana. Teams are trained in water quality testing and Saha Global’s water treatment methods, as well as community mobilization best practice. They then spend two weeks implementing and monitoring a Saha water business in a new partner community.  This business provides a source of clean drinking water to the entire community for the first time.

Saha is looking for a multidisciplinary group of passionate and talented young leaders who:

  • Feel passionately about the global water crisis and social justice, global public health, and women’s empowerment more broadly.
  • Push themselves outside their comfort zones.
  • Approach unanticipated challenges with flexibility, humility, and positivity.
  • Think critically and listen openly to others, embracing a range of perspectives and experiences while remaining open to having their own perspectives shift.
  • Show a commitment to inclusivity and collaboration across cultures and language barriers.

If this sounds like you, Saha invites you to fill out an application or join in a free, online info session to learn more!