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Operations Updates: New staff, new reporting, new ideas!

If you haven’t already noticed, there have been a lot of changes at Saha in recent months! I am so excited to update you on all of the improvements we’ve had. New staff, new reporting, new ideas!

The team has more than doubled since we last introduced new members. Here is a brief introduction of all our recent additions. Last February, we said a fond fairwell to Eda and Morganne who have served as Operations Coordinators for over a year here in Ghana. A month later, we said warm hello to the new Operations Coordinator Rhiana Meade who will be working with me (Heidi)! Rhiana was actually a field rep during our previous Winter GLP 2018. She helped open a center with TJ at Nyantag, little did she know that a few months later she would be returning to work full time with us helping implement even more villages.

Here is a brief introduction of Rhiana. She graduated from Reed College in Portland Oregon with a degree in Chemistry and went on to get her Masters at Tufts University in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Previously, she worked for a Field Operations Supervisor for a Cambrian Innovation, a provider of wastewater treatment services. She has been to Ghana even before her field rep days. Her parents lived and worked in Accra for a few years, during which she visited them, found herself a Ghanaian Auntie, and was able to tour around the country. She has works with passion and compassion and can make an amazing Blondie! It been great having her as my counterpart. She was was able to hold down the fort when I went on vacation 2 weeks into her arrival and orientation. We plunged her into the Saha life, and she has done well!

Next to introduce, is someone who took on a completely new role: Director of Operations. We welcomed Theo the same month Rhiana joined on. He was born and raised in Accra and went to Ashesi University to study Business Administration. Prior to Saha Theo worked with Delta and a Start-up called Laundry King – An on demand laundry service. Maybe we can get one of those here in Tamale? Theo is on the search for the best Wache in town, so any recommendations please send them his way. He will be taking over most of the administrative load from Rhiana and myself, so we can focus on optimizing the day to day management of our staff. It’s been helpful having an in-country representative to focus on community relationships and building up the organization for future growth. Since the role is still being formed, he’s been doing an amazing job rolling with whatever we need him to to. Currently, he is going out 3 days a week to get a true feel of how the business run and what Saha does. Since coming, he has been able to witness an implementation through it’s entirety, get incredibly lost scouting, and have difficult conversations with villages facing problems. Way to go Theo for taking on this role with bravery and openness!

Speaking of growth, did you notice, we hired on 5 new full time staff members? All the new staff were our Translators in our Winter 2018 GLP. Much like Rhiana, little did they know that they would become full time staff with us in a few months for the GLP. Now I can’t image the team without them. You can read more on their bios but here is a which overview of our newest members:

Abubakari Asita (aka Sita), she grew up in Tamale and started working with Saha back in 2014 implementing Balamposo. If she sounds familiar to you, you may have recognized her from Women’s week posts. She loves being an inspiration to little girls in the villages she visits.

 

 

 

 

 

Alhassan Seidu was trained under Eric who would often take him out in the field monitoring and implementing. Now he can do that on his own as a full time staff. Seidu always shoos away the goats that wander into the Saha Office. Outside of Monitoring, Seidu is a skilled electrician and helps us with any electrical needs we encounter at the office.

Ziblila Mohammed Taufik has been part of 3 Global Leadership Programs. His first implementation was Baiyili. Prior to Saha Taufik used to teach ICT, but now he enjoys seeing the clear water being scooped into the PT at the water centers.

Amenyeku Dzorsah started as a translator for GLP. His first implementation was Changbuni. Prior to monitoring, Dzorsah was a taxi driver in tamale. Now he gets work with the women entrepreneurs, talk to people during household visits about clean water, and drive a moto everyday instead of a taxi. I haven’t asked him which he prefers yet!

Sulemana Tijani has known and worked with Saha in its very early stages with Shak and Kate. His first GLP village was Yapei-Yipela. Prior to Saha he worked at Melcom (the Tamale equivalent of Walmart) and drove a taxi. Now he can bring clean water to his country and work with other likeminded individuals.

A larger team has allowed us to expand and focus! So starting in January, we divided up into 3 Distinct teams: Scouting, Monitoring, and Implementation. We divided up the team based on their interests, but there is the possibility of movement across teams if desired. For now, everyone is doing an amazing job in each of their teams. Because we have focussed teams, we can have more direct goals to achieve. For the scouting team, our goal is map our all the villages within a 3 hr driving radius around Tamale, start plotting Salaga villages, and determine “Yes” villages. Our Monitoring team’s goal is to make sure our current villages are getting the support that is needed and to find ways to improve our implementations and trainings. Constant improvement is our motto! Our Implementation Team allows us to implement villages outside of our Global Leadership Program, which means we can reach more villages each year. It also helps us use what we learn from the monitoring team, to refine and perfect our implementations and trainings. I have been so impressed with how the team has handled the transition.

 

 

 

 

 

Most of the team (minus Rhiana who took the photo and Peter who was in Salaga at the time)

You’ll see below, I’ve added a *Bonus* Team. These are our part time staff that also have been doing great work for us in the past few months. Blessing, a former translator for the GLP, is now helping us build relationships with the Districts, so we can connect our villages needs to gov’t bodies. Mutala is our newest addition to the team, he and Blessing have been doing research for Kathryn to help improve our knowledge of water consumption. Kathryn has big plans for the research team, look out for her update!

Scouting: Amin, Peter

Monitoring: Simply, Nestor, Sita, Seidu, Taufik, TJ

Implementation: Wahab, Eric, Shak

 

Blessing our District Liason and Researcher
Mutala our Researcher

Bonus (part time) Teams:

 

District Liason: Blessing

Researcher: Mutala

 

 

 

 

The increase in staff was only made manageable by the addition of this amazing data organizing tool we started using called mWater. With mWater we are able to take surveys, plot points, and collect data all through an application on our phones. Once the phone is connected to the internet, this information is synced and can be stored and analysed online. We piloted it in November and fully launched it in December, however since we are still in the learning phase, there have been several iterations and updates to how we collect data. This has been a game changing addition to the day to day work. We can say goodbye to the endless amounts of paper used and manually inputting information into excel.  I am excited to see what we can do with mWater and will update you more on this in a separate post!

Welp! If you felt like that was a lot to take it, it was!!! Thanks for reading through this “brief” update. If you want to hear about anything more in detail, leave us a comment!

Go team go!

Heidi

Amarraba to Heidi!

This December, Heidi Ayran joined the Saha team as our new Operations Coordinator. Heidi will be will be working with the team to continue insuring all Saha community businesses are running effectively and supporting development and expansion as Saha pushes to reach more communities. Say hello to Heidi:

Me after helping build Jangbarayili’s solar center!

Hi, I’m Heidi and like all others on the Saha Team I have a passion for clean water for all! I got to celebrate graduating with a degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering from UC Berkeley (Go Bears!) by participating in Saha’s Summer 2015 Global Leadership Program. It was an amazing experience to be able to implement a solar business in Jangbaryili with Team Jaleel, which has stuck with me to this day!

Working with Saha showed me how effective simple solutions could be and how important is was to invest time into getting to know the people. A quality that really stood out to me was that Saha’s ultimate goal is to have these villages self-sustaining. Give a village a clean water solution, sustain them for some time. Give a village the understanding of the importance of clean water and how to get it, sustain them for a lifetime!

Team Jaleel at a chief meeting.

After the program, I worked as a Project Engineer for a General Contractor in SF and built high rise residential buildings. However, I soon realized that my passions were not being fueled my current position, so I decided to change that. I saw that Saha was hiring a new Operations Coordinator and I seized the opportunity. I was drawn (twice!) to Saha not only because of their passion for clean water, but their passion for people. Saha is overflowing with it! I look forward to see how I can contribute and collaborate to such a great cause and where the new year will take the Saha Team!

 

 

Meet Morganne!

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!

Hot Off The Press: Clean Water Entrepreneurship Program in Ghana Earns Prestigious Support for Saha Global’s Co-Founder

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 and fellow 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 its  prestigious 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 kate@sahaglobal.org 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.

Monitoring Updates From Eda

Despa!! I’m currently sitting in the Saha office on a rainy Monday morning. Most days we’d be out monitoring right now, but the downpour is keeping us inside. We gave it our best shot, heading out at 6:30am only to make it to the other side of Tamale before we were soaked through. It doesn’t help much to put a rain jacket on after the rains begin, and motos don’t offer any rain protection, so back to the office Wahab and I drove! Tomorrow we will try again!

 

The few weeks since the Global Leadership Program ended have been an adventure. Thus far, I’ve gone monitoring with Eric, Shak, and am now starting to monitor with Wahab. Katie and I are spending a week with each full time staff to really understand how things run around here.

Eric monitors Vogyili, the community I implemented a water business in as a field rep. It was fun to monitor and see how well they were doing, especially considering they now have a solar business too. Eric also monitors five of the nine new water businesses from this summer’s GLP. All five (Kanjeyili, Baayili, Dawunyili, Mahamuyili, and Kpingiyili) are doing well!

Moto

 

A few surprises occurred when Shak and I visited Yakura. The first of which was the small lake that greeted us on the road into the village. We weren’t sure we could make it through on the moto, but a man passing by on a bicycle assured us it wasn’t that deep. However, he was taking a back route that wasn’t moto friendly to avoid the puddle, so we were on our own. I decided to let Shak ride alone, and I would walk though the puddle rather than risk a swim were the moto to tip. Thankfully, the man was right and we made it through without (many) problems, but I am glad I walked!

Puddle

 

In Yakura I also saw Mary, one of the women entrepreneurs from my time in Vogyili. We were walking into our first household to monitor and there she was!

I knew that she had moved to another community, but I was so surprised and excited to see her! She’s now helping run the water and solar businesses in Yakura. Mary was equally as surprised to see me, and asked how Victoria, Jacob, and Hailey were (my 2013 GLP teammates).  It was a touching reminder of the lasting impact field reps and Saha truly have on each community and its entrepreneurs.

Kitchen

 

And now, an update on living in Tamale and a shameless plug for our food blog! Katie and I have started an Instagram account – tamaleeats – to document our adventures cooking and eating here in Tamale (even though we have zero experience with food photography). It’s a whole new world learning what goods we can actually cook from the market, and trying to operate our oven. It’s a great day if it only takes one match to light the stove!

 

Nevertheless, I think we’ve done a splendid job so far: we haven’t eaten plain rice for any meal and we discovered donuts in the market can be a good (albeit not nutritious) lunch substitute when it’s too hot to turn on the stove. Head over to tamaleeats to see homemade falafel, mujadara, chili, and more!

Donuts Falafel

From Field Rep to Full-Time Staff

Two leadership programs down and two weeks of monitoring under the belt – wow, life in Tamale is different when there aren’t 60 salamingas running around town. As I settle into this new lifestyle, I am starting to reflect on the differences of being a Field Rep and working as a staff member in Ghana.

As a field rep, my mind was set on the end goal of beginning a water treatment business in Sagbarigu. There were definitely problems along the way, but we were able to find quick and easy solutions to each problem we faced. We left in June 2014 confident that the skill sets we gave the women entrepreneurs were enough to keep the business running.

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Now I am back two years later as a full-time staff member. Yes, Sagbarigu’s water treatment business is still running well. But, I have already learned in my short time here that there are many gray areas to the success of these businesses. It’s not just about the incredible team that implemented these businesses. It’s also about the incredible staff members that work hard to monitor in these communities. Every day, we visit 3 communities to check on the center, sales, successes and challenges of the water and solar businesses. I am learning quickly that each business has its unique challenges that I could not have imagined as a field rep. As I sit in the solar center of Chandanyili with Wahab and the 4 women entrepreneurs talking about money management, I can see a concrete difference in the way I solved problems as a field rep and the way I solve problems now.

Instead of wondering, what can be done right now to solve this problem, I ask myself: What is better for the sustainability of this project? Should we use the easy solution to get the center back up and running now? Or talk with the women, encourage them to hold a community meeting, and let us know their final decision on sales? Do we lead these business owners towards the answer we want to hear or do we let them find solutions to their problems that best fit their community? Will their answer end up being the same as ours?


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I may not know the answers to all of these questions now, as they are sure to be different with each unique situation, but I have learned so much already from Eric, Wahab, Amin, Peter and Shak. Eda and I continue to be thankful for their patience, willingness to answer any [silly] question, and the constant laughter (usually relating to our most recent marriage proposals). We’re excited to see what this year has in store for us!

wahab (1)

Introducing Our 2016 Advisory Board

The Saha Global Advisory Board consists of some of our top Field Rep alumni. After participating in the Global Leadership Program and implementing a Saha business from the ground up, these people really know what we are all about! We truly value their input and feedback. We know that they have the skills, experience and passion that we need to continue to drive our growth and expansion!

The main focus of our board over this next year will be fundraising and Field Rep alumni engagement. We are excited to have their input and ideas!Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 10.56.46 AM

Our 2016 Advisory Board Members:
Brianan Kiernan
DeLaine Mayer
Kayleah Griffen
Sean Dikdan
Signe Lindquist
Bryant Foreman
Jeremy Lakin
Lilly Prince
Stacey Cussen

Over the next few weeks we will be posting bios about each of the members so you can get to know them a little better, stay posted!

A Day in the Life of Shak, Saha’s Director of Ghana Operations

Today we are going to hear from Shak, Saha’s Director of Ghana Operations. Shak has worked for Saha since 2009, is our resident solar expert, and manages our team in Tamale. He is an huge asset to the Saha team and one of the most popular guys in Tamale! This is his first-ever blog post. I’ll let Shak take it from here:

ghana {CWS team}-102Every Monday, I meet everyone at the office by 6:30am to check in about how the week is to start and where each person is heading out to monitor. After checking in with everyone, I give them each a day of fuel money so they can head out to the field. At the end of each day, everyone checks in with me at 2:30pm about how the day went and challenges encountered in the communities that day. Some examples of challenges would be if there was a broken polytank. If this happens, then they can take the supplies needed for the women to repair it the next day.

ghana {CWS team}-98After my morning check ins, I leave to monitor communities myself.  The first thing I do when I am out to monitor is visit the business centers to see the status of the center. Then, I go talk to the entrepreneurs. The first thing I ask them (after sending my greetings to them) is “how is the water business center doing?” I make sure to ask how many blue drums were treated this week and how many aquatabs they used. I then ask about the challenges or successes of the week, before heading out to my first compound visit.

The same thing applies to the solar centers. I make sure that I ask how many  cell phones the entrepreneurs charged in the past week and count the number of cell phones and batteries plugged in when I arrive. I also ask how often the panels have been cleaned and how sales are going for the the week. Finally, I ask how much money they made in the past week.

CWS_060514_Solar_MVI_8249.MOV.Still001On Fridays we have our general staff meeting day. During this meeting we discuss all problems encountered for the week and how to solve them.

My responsibilities as the Director of Ghana Operations are:

  • -To provide advice and support for teammates
  • -Support teammates, answer basic questions, and act as a funnel for communications with the US staff
  • -Create clean and organized expense reports
  • -Write blog posts for Saha Global
  • -Oversee all monitoring and operations
  • -Make sure all activities are are getting accomplished in a timely manner
  • -Order supplies in preparation for the Global Leadership Program

ghana {CWS team}-94My favorite part of my job is providing cleaning water and solar power to people in need. The difficult part of my job is if there is bad communication in the team. That is stressful!

-Ibrahim Shakool

 

Meet Our Newest Corporate Partner: Phoenix Revolution

Saha Global is thrilled to announced our newest corporate partner: Phoenix Revolution!

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Phoenix Revolution’s mission is to overcome the most challenging problems that face our world today, through engineering economic and environmental solutions. Their Ocean Pure Water System (OPWS) uses modern and proven water desalination processes in an innovative way to reduce power consumption and upfront costs, while maximizing water production. Using desalination and purification techniques based on reverse osmosis (RO), the OPWS does not innovate on the removal of dissolved solids, but on the ability to supply water to the system.

“What was once a multi year, multi billion dollar operation, can now be done in weeks with startup costs starting well under the $100,000 price mark.” Says Casey Glynn, Phoenix Revolution’s Founder and CEO. “Our system is easy, adaptable to being deployed under the sea or on land depending on your specific needs, and can get you started creating fresh, clean, potable drinking water right away. The OPWS is the beginning of ensuring that all people on this planet have quick and easy access to water.”

Saha was first introduced to Casey, last year through Next Step Living. We were immediately impressed with his passion for worldwide water access and his innovative technology. Casey and his team attend the Saha Benefit in the fall, were excited by our plans to expand to Nicaragua and immediately wanted to know how they help.

“[Saha and Phoenix] share the same belief. We are trying to solve the same problems and we feel that together we can make a large difference,” says Casey. “Companies coming together and working together is the only way we can all move forward on this most critical of problems”

Over the next year, Phoenix will be donating funds to help support our expansion and eventually will be contributing their water treatment products for us to test in-country during our Nicaragua pilots. Stay tuned for more exciting updates!

Is your company interested in expanding your impact by supporting Saha’s work? Contact Kate, kate@sahaglobal.org, to learn more!

Introducing Saha’s Operations Coordinator Eda & Programming Coordinator Katie

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From left to right- Shak, Eda, Hailey, Victoria & Jacob, Eda’s team members during her time on the Global Leadership Program in the Summer of 2013.

First up, Eda Reed. Take it away…

Ghana, it’s been too long – but I’m coming back! Nicaragua, same goes for you! This June will be three years since my time as a field rep in the village of Vogyili, and I am more than excited to get back to Ghana and explore Nicaragua as the new Operations Coordinator!

In May, I’ll graduate from Colby College with a bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental science, with a concentration in the environment and human health. I’m passionate about the health of humans, wildlife, and the environment, and how they interact (aka One Health). I believe that we need to focus on all three of these stakeholders in order to make improved global health a reality, and that’s why I love Saha Global’s model! The clean water and solar energy businesses focus on solutions to improving human health that are local, sustainable, and ultimately beneficial for more than just the immediate village impacted. My time in Ghana was the “aha” moment that sparked my passion, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to go back!

Me with Mary & Fusiena
Eda with Vogyili’s water entrepreneurs Mary and Fusiena

I think there’s great potential for Saha’s expansion to Nicaragua, and I can’t wait to find Saha’s niche. I spent a few weeks near Managua in the west of Nicaragua in 2014 teaching environmental science and implementing environmental health projects. Everyone I worked with there were as welcoming and friendly as Fuseina and Mary from Vogyili, the two women managing the clean water business I helped set up. I’m convinced the northeastern region of Nicaragua will be no different! It will be challenging to find what pieces of the Saha model work or don’t work in a new country, but I’m confident Katie and I have what it takes! I can’t wait until we begin our new adventures in Ghana and Nicaragua.

-Eda

And now we will hear from Katie Spruill. (And yes we know this makes a Kate, Kathryn and now a Katie on the Saha Team). Katie will be helping us lead this Winter’s Program as well! Without further ado…

I am excited to be Saha’s Programming Coordinator  beginning in June 2016! Since

Katie & Mariam
Katie & Mariam

participating in the Leadership Program in May of 2014, I have wanted to be a part of the Saha team. I graduate from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!!) in May of 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Systems Engineering and a Green Engineering minor. I have always been interested in international development and from the moment I learned about Saha Global’s leadership program, I knew I needed to apply.

Ana, Katie, Nestor, Alex, and Nicole (From left to right) on their final day in Sagbarigu.
Ana, Katie, Nestor, Alex, and Nicole (From left to right) on their final day in Sagbarigu.

In my first few days in Ghana, as a Field Rep, I experienced a roller coaster of emotions. I was very excited to be involved in helping so many people. At the same time, however, it was heart breaking to see these beautiful kids drinking contaminated water. Working with the women entrepreneurs, to build the water treatment center, was an incredible experience. We didn’t speak the same language, but I could immediately sense their enthusiasm for the project and their sense of community during our many meetings with the village. I will always remember Sanatu, one of the women entrepreneurs,  grabbing my hands on our last day and asking me to never forget her.  Forgetting her was never an option, she had made a bigger impact on my life than I could ever have made on her life.

Needless to say, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to serve as Saha’s programming coordinator.  I am ecstatic to get back to Ghana and I cannot wait to start our work in Nicaragua!

-Katie