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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!

Sincerely,

Team Sweat.

 

#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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Field Rep Voices: Team Erin, Qing, Shane, Sarah and Eric

Members of Chihigu gather around the solar charging center for opening night

As we first arrived at the Chihigu Village for opening night, there was an immediate tension in the air, so thick one could cut it with a knife (or a machete ;)). There was an obvious buzz going around the village because tonight was the night that the lights were going to be turned on, thus forever changing the way of life for this community. Even the animals were excited as Despa (Shane’s village puppy) ran after the car as we pulled in; the dog then broke Shane’s heart when he ran immediately up to Qing instead as the team exited the vehicle.
The women were all ready to go -eager, anxious, excited – and the villagers felt the same. We arrived with about half an hour left until kickoff for the light show, so we made the most of our time and began painting the solar charging station. Erin, as always, played some jams on the Bluetooth radio our group brought and the opening ceremony for the lights turned into a party. Adults and children alike were dancing along to the beats while Team Eric and Iddrisu painted the solar charging station. Once 6 PM came around, the women were manned at their station ready for battle! Due to the amount of people ready to purchase batteries for their lanterns, we decided it best to sell them out of the window rather than try and cram all these people into the charging station. Pretty soon the line to purchase the batteries looked like a Chic-Fil-A drive-thru on a Saturday evening (It is closed on Sundays thus making for an even more hectic drive-thru line).

Qing works with the women entrepreneurs on opening night

The women in charge of the charging station didn’t skip a beat! They essentially formed a leadership-powered assembly line as one woman rented out the 3 batteries to a customer, another replaced those batteries on the charger and the third woman tallied the purchase in their notepad. This process continued long into the night until the entire village could successfully use their lanterns! As night settled and the moon rose, it was obvious (and a little scary) how dark things got after the sunset. That was until the villagers began turning on their lanterns for the first time. You could see, one by one, households being lit up and people using their lights as they traversed through the community. It was a remarkable chain of events as you could literally the see difference being made in these peoples’ lives. All the hard work that was put into this project by Team Eric, Saha Global and the community proved to be worthwhile and we know that the village will forever be grateful!

Erin gets all of the kids involved to help paint the center

Field Rep Voices: Team Alex K, Mona Mae, Morgan, and Simply

Top 5 Experiences on Opening Day

In honor of Saha Global opening it’s 100th water business, here’s a list of five things that were unexpected and simply beautiful for us on opening day in Kpumi.

1. You might be terrified of passing women by on opening day, but keep in the back of your mind that garriwas filed with dugout water serve the purpose of cooking, cleaning among other things.

2. You might be nervous that nobody is going to show up to get water from the center. But hold your horses, when one comes, they all come. The excitement is real. Really real.

3. It’s going to be hectic, no matter how prepared you are. With excitement comes chaos, but it definitely is part of the process. But, never worry! A hectic opening day where everyone wants water at once is a one-time thing.

Safe storage containers lined up and ready to fill!

4. The beauty of seeing the young kids drink the water makes you see how much of an impact the water center can have.

One of the kids in Kpumi enjoys clean water!

5. You can find joy in watching the Fulani and the Dagomba people interact and continue to foster community at the opening of the business.

Kpumi gathers at the water treatment center to get their first taste

 

The excitement is real really real. And the beauty of clean water is unlike no other. Cheers to Saha and their 100 water businesses!

Field Rep Voices: Team Caleb, Joanne, Shanelle, Wyatt and Shak

A view of the farms in Jagberin

Today was our second day of distributing lanterns to the more than 45 households in the beautiful village of Jagberin.

About two hours outside of Tamale, Jagberin as a village is on the larger side and rather spread out.  It seems like there are almost two separate parts of the village with several minutes of driving between them.  The part that we were familiar with, where the solar center was built, was where we passed out a little over half of the lanterns yesterday.  Today we got to explore a new part of the village and even meet some new members of the village.

Interestingly, the slightly smaller section of Jagberin that we visited today was much denser than the main part of the village.  From where we had been so far, only a handful of households were within eyesight of each other.   This new part of the village, on the other hand, had more than 10 households within a couple hundred feet of each other.  Because of this, we were able to talk to a lot more people in a shorter amount of time!

As this was the second day we were passing out lanterns, everyone seemed to know we were coming and even had their money ready.  Despite being separated from the majority of the village, word must have spread quickly because these people were even more excited and willing to help.  This gave us more time to just talk with them about what they think of the village and get to know them a little better.

After we finished passing out the rest of the lanterns, we used the rest of the day to finish training the women who will run the solar business.  We reviewed and quizzed them on the technical training that they had been learning in the past couple days and they did everything perfectly.  They were even charging batteries ahead of time in preparation for opening night!  Next we worked on some of the business training like saving money and recording sales.  Since they were already running the water business, they quickly picked up on almost every sale.  The one thing that we did notice them struggle with was keeping tally of transactions.  They had no trouble counting, but it’s not often that they use pen and paper.  Not only that, but the tally method of counting was new to them, but they caught on quickly!  All in all, the women entrepreneurs and the entire village are showing a lot of enthusiasm and looking ready for opening night tomorrow!

Joanne trains the women entrepreneurs before opening night 

Field Rep Voices: Team Lexie, Shama, Sita, Tess and Walker

Team Sita here,
So far we have had an amazing two weeks in Tamale, Ghana. We learned a ton about the Ghanaian culture and language during the first few days of orientation. We then visited a water business that was set up earlier in the year to see what the community thought about it. We heard nothing but positive feedback, such as: “Our stomachs do not hurt anymore;” “We love the taste of the water;” “It is soooo clear!!!We love it!!!” We were also all pleasantly welcomed by the community especially by the children. I can speak for the group when I say that we definitely didn’t have enough fingers for all the little hands that wanted to hang on. That experience certainly helped us build a vision for starting our future water business.

The team with Parishenaaya’s polytank stand

Fast forward to today, we worked from 7:30am-2:30pm out in the field with our two female entrepreneurs, our translator Sita, and of course one of our village’s babies, who we promptly named “angry baby,” came a long to watch us. We began the day by filling up our Poly Tank with our three 200mL drums. We treated the drums yesterday with alum and let them set overnight. It was crazy to see all the settlement and dirt that collected at the bottom of the drums. The women always love to comment on how clear the water is. The other day we were touched by how the women reacted when we had to dump out some of our newly purified water to start a new cycle. They were upset because the water was so clean, so they decided to collect the rest of it and bring it back to the village with them to share with their community. After we added in the water to the Poly Tank we purified it using three chlorine tablets. We then helped the women fetch water from their dugout to refill the three drums and treat them with alum again.

Alum work with the new entrepreneurs

I then tested the women on how to fit the tap to the buckets and they did a great job after a few tries. Next, Shama taught them how to fix the red button on the tap so they were good to go to help their community with any problems they may face with their safe storage containers. We then walked back to the village where Walker, Tess, and Sita went to thirteen family units and talked them through how to use their safe storage containers so that they do not re-contaminate the clean water that they buy. Because I was working with Shama today, I can go more in-depth about what it was like for us keeping the kids occupied and learning more about the villagers. The first hour or so we played around five games of Duck Duck Goose, which consisted of a lot more than just simply running around the circle. During one of the rounds it was only Shama and I with one of the girls left and I was going around and decided to pick Shama. I took off running in the opposite direction because I knew she would have been able to just reach around and catch me because of our small circle. I took off into the field with Shama right on my heels and Parishenaaya’s kids and elders laughing hysterically in the distance. Needless to say both Shama and I got our workout in for the day!

Shama, Tess, and Sita with the polytank

After Duck Duck Goose we taught them how to play Down By The Banks where you sit in a circle and hit the hand of the person sitting next to you until the end of the song. It was funny to watch the kids try and guess when the song, which they have never heard before, was going to end so they knew when to pull their hand away. We were even able to get one of the older men involved with our game but he was just as confused but joyful as many of the children were. We then played some volleyball with a soccer ball which marks the first time any of us have seen “angry baby” smile. Walker claimed that “angry baby” was the cutest out of all of the children in the village, yet he feels like this baby in particular hates him the most. We have tried tickling him, making funny faces and even faking our own deaths a few times now; however, nothing but a soccer ball can make that baby smile. We hope that in addition to the soccer ball that clean water will also make him crack a grin, were not asking for a smile…just a grin would be a success in our book. Overall, we had a really productive day and look forward to continuing to distribute our safe storage containers tomorrow so that we can hopefully open up for business on Wednesday. We are all so excited to finally see our business come to life because we and the village have put in a lot of time and effort to see this business through.

Team Sita’s favorite “angry baby”

This has been an eye opening experience for all of us and we would definitely recommend it to everybody looking to make a positive and long lasting difference in the lives of so many. Our community, Parishenaaya, is made up of 30 different family units and on average those households can hold up to eight people so having clean water will definitely change our community for the better.

Cheers,
Lexie, Shama, Walker & Tess

Tess cleans the polytank

Field Rep Voices: Team Alberta, Kevin, Nikita, Yu and Zulean

Zuro to Hero!

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’s  Northern 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 the  village’s chief and getting his permission to start our business.

Team Alberta with Zuro’s Chief

With his blessing, we moved forward step by step, and over the past  few 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 have  continued 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 new  connections and bonds with the citizens of Zuro as we go from household to household distributing safe storage containers and explaining the benefits of drinking the clean water we  have worked so hard to provide. It’s crazy to think of how far we have come, from  having ZURO clue what we were doing in Ghana, to assimilating into our village and successfully creating a clean water business from  the ground up! More to come! 🙂

-Team Alberta FOREVER