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Saha’s 2017 Winter Program Kicks Off!

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.

Over and out,

– Team Saha

#SahaSwag

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 Browse and purchase gear here!

Bryant Foreman
Saha Global Alumni Advisory Board Co-Chair
Summer, 2013 Global Leadership Program

Orientation Down, Next Step Implementation!

Akwaaba from Tamale! We are excited to have all of our Field Reps here for orientation before heading out to their own villages. The first few days have been spent learning Ghana history, Dagbani training (the predominant language spoken in the area around Tamale), and Saha’s approach to both the water treatment and solar electricity processes. Teams and translators were announced on the first day and their first activity together was spent running around town on a scavenger hunt. Congratulations to Team Simply for getting the most points!

 

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Next, our teams spent the morning at a village that was previously implemented in for water or solar. It was a great opportunity to see how the businesses run and the challenges and successes that different communities face throughout operation. In Wovugu, our Field Reps learned that the women entrepreneurs had issues getting people to buy water for a short period of time. They were able to solve the problem with the elders of the village to educate people about the need to always drink clean and safe drinking water! Everyone had a great time asking the women questions and playing with the kids!

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If you don’t already, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@sahaglobal) to check out pictures of the Field Reps in action. More to come soon!

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!

On a Quest for Quality Light

After our Global Leadership Program this summer, we were contacted by Burro. They are no longer going to carry the beloved lanterns we have been using at Saha’s solar charging businesses. The durability, price, availability and the fact that they are battery-operated are just a few of the reasons why we and, most importantly, the consumers love these lanterns, so we were sad to see them go. 

Here’s where Saha’s relationship with our suppliers comes in. The great thing about our local suppliers like Burro is that we have built a solid partnership. When Burro decided not to carry this lantern model, they  began researching a new product that could meet our lantern requirements. Now we will hand it over to guest blogger Jacob McEntire, an Electrical Engineer at Burro, who researched and found a new lantern fit for Saha!

Finding good quality products isn’t always easy, so when Saha reached out to my employer to for recommendations on battery lights, I was happy to lend a hand. The challenge was to find a light that was not only powerful and long-lasting, but could stand up to the rigors of everyday use in Ghana. It didn’t make the process easier that their clients’ needs necessitated an inexpensive choice; rather than browsing the cream of the crop, our mission was to pluck a gem from the bottom of the barrel.

We had a bevy of different lights to test.

We had a bevy of different lights to test.

Faced with an order of 75 assorted battery lights that we had ordered for testing, as well as a kerosene lantern that had somehow snuck into the shipment, my partner Edmond and I began by sorting them into categories. Some of the products (headlamps, torchlights, desk lamps, etc.) were instantly nixed, progressing the remaining 15 or so to the next round: drop testing. Since Saha emphasized a need for durability, we began by dropping the products four feet onto the stone floor of the workshop. Some failed completely at this point, some flickered but soldiered on, and a few didn’t even dim. We also did some initial battery testing at this stage; turning on the lights and running them until they ran out of battery. Lights that survived the drop-testing and had long enough battery life enough to be useful continued on to the final round of testing, where we examined their light output more carefully.

Edmond preparing to drop-test one of the lights.

Edmond preparing to drop-test one of the lights.

During our exploration of these products, we discovered how tricky it can be to quantify their light emission. Battery life seemed the most important factor after durability, but there’s a lot that battery life doesn’t tell us. As a light shines, it constantly saps the voltage of its batteries, which in turn decreases the intensity of the light. As anyone who owns a flashlight knows, this means that battery lights will get dimmer over time. Our goal with this final round of tests was to quantify that time: how quickly do these lights dim? At what point do we consider them too dim to be useful?

The difference between our workshop and a darkroom? About an inch of aluminum.

The difference between our workshop and a darkroom? About an inch of aluminum.

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With a little finagling, we converted our workshop into a makeshift darkroom. Combining this with a luxmeter iPhone app, a stopwatch, and diligent data-gathering, we produced a set of curves describing the light output of each of our final three candidates. Exciting! Armed with this knowledge, we settled on our final recommendation: the KNP-W01331NR. It combines strong light output and good battery life with an extreme resistance to physical shocks. As you can see from the picture below, the light was designed with endurance in mind: its rubberized casing and thick joints minimize damage from falls and knocks, and its lack of sharp edges distributes any stress more evenly across the body, lessening wear.

The sleek design of the KNP-W01331NR enables it to take a beating without damage to the circuitry.

The sleek design of the KNP-W01331NR enables it to take a beating without damage to the circuitry.
Our data for light testing; light 2 was our final choice, because of it’s extreme durability.

Our data for light testing; light 2 was our final choice, because of it’s extreme durability.

Meet Our Entrepreneurs: Damu from Sakpalua

Sakpalua- DamuDamu hails from Kpalbe. When she was in her teens, Damu  went to live with her aunt in Sakpalua where she later got married and now lives. Damu has two sons and 9 grandchildren!

The water treatment center in Sakpalua was implemented in April 2012 thanks to the help of Fall Field Reps Nick, Rich, Colleen and Chelsea. Damu was selected as one of the women to run the business. A part from running the water business Damu also farms groundnuts and cowpea, an indigenious legume. “I was happy to be part of the process for my community to get safe clean drinking water,” Damu told Saha manager, Eric.

In April of 2014 Kate, Saha’s Executive Director, and Sam, Saha’s Director of Operations, approached Sakpalua about implementing a solar charging business to give source of electricity to the entire community. Sakpalua’s charging business was a one of the pilots for the new solar project and was Saha’s third solar business to open. “I was excited to later be brought solar. Now our kids can read at night and all the compounds have lights when it is dark. I am proud of that,” Damu said.

Since the solar business has been implemented, Damu runs the water and solar businesses with three other women in the community so that they are all able to still tend to their farms.

Meet Our Entrepreneurs: Ramatu from Nekpegu

Nekpegu - Lamatu

Ramatu is one of the business owners of both the solar and water businesses in Nekpegu, a small village located about two hours outside of Tamale. She was born and raised in Tohinayili, which is another Saha partner village in the Northern Region of Ghana. She later got married to her present husband in Nekpegu and has lived there ever since. She has 6 kids, four boys (two of the boys are a set of twins!) and two girls. Alongside running the water and solar businesses in her community, she farms groundnuts, okra and shea nuts. She grinds the shea nuts to make shea butter, which she then sells in the market.

Ramatu and her business partner, Fatima, have been running the water business in Nekpegu for two years. With the help of 2013 Winter Field Reps, Vanessa, Linda, Alexa & Julia, Ramatu and Fati were trained how to run the water treatment business to provide a source of clean drinking water to their entire community of about 300 people. “People are cooperative and come to buy water anytime they treat water and make announcements,” says Ramatu.

The solar charging business was implemented in Nekpegu just this past November by 2014 Fall Field Reps, Anne, Terry, Kerry & Mary. “Now our kids can study at night” Ramatu says. When asking Ramatu about the solar business she remembered the opening night of the solar center when they did a local dance, torah, with Terry and Anne to celebrate. “I am so happy to make sales at the solar and water business!” she states.

Happy Holidays from Saha Global

Happy Holidays from Saha Global! It’s an exciting time for us, as we’re getting ready to welcome the newest group of Saha Field Representatives to Ghana later this week!

Stay tuned for pictures and updates of their work, and in the meantime, best wishes to you and yours from all of us.

(Holiday) Cheers!

– Team Saha

A winter wonderland - Tamale style

A winter wonderland – Tamale style

Fall Fellowship Application Deadline August 18th!

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For the very first time we will be offering the opportunity to join our fellowship program for the implementation of a solar project! This Fall you will be given the choice whether you want to implement a solar charging station or a water treatment center. 

The 2014 Fall Fellowship will be a two week program and take place from November 4th to 19th. Orientation will take place stateside via webinar allowing our fellows to hit the ground running! We accept fellows on a rolling basis and encourage you to apply early! The deadline for the Fall Fellowship is August 18th! 

We are beyond excited to offer this opportunity! If you have any additional questions, please contact Sam at sreilley@communitywatersolutions.org

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CWS now in 71 communities!

 

This is my first official post as Ghana Country Director and what an exciting time it is to be updating everyone following the CWS blog on what we’ve been up to since the 2014 Summer fellows left.

Thanks to the fellows, CWS has opened water treatment businesses in eleven more communities: Original Kabache, Sabonjida, Janakpam, Manguli II, Wuvogu, Wuvogumani, Changyili, Jangbarayili, Balamposo, Kagbal, and Sagbarigu, as well as set up a solar business in Yapalsi. This brings the total number of communities we are working in to 71! In addition to the newly established water and solar businesses, nine villages are now independent: Tijo, Tindun, Libi, Changashi, Kpenchila, Nyamaliga, Buja, Kushini, and Zanzugu. At Community Water Solutions, self-sufficiency is our end goal in the communities where we work. Data collected over the years of household visits we have done since the inception of these businesses has shown that the centers have been up and running and community members have purchased water at the center on consistent bases. The staff at CWS will still monitor and assist the women entrepreneurs to ensure the centers continue to run successfully, but we are proud to add them to our list of 23 total independent villages!

On the monitoring side of operations, going to the field this week with Amin, Shak, Wahab, and Eric has been a lot of fun. Figuring out the logistics of integrating our new communities into our existing monitoring schedules was challenging, but the guys have done an amazing job with handling the extra responsibility. Having heard so much from the fellows about the women and community members, I was really eager to go and see the new centers for myself! On Monday, Amin and I went to Jakapam, Manguli II, Wuvogu, and Wuvogumani. While the fellows were still here monitoring in their villages after opening day, community members of Janakpam had made it known during household visits that they felt the water tasted too strongly of alum, the chemical the women use in the first stage of treatment. This is typically a learning process when centers are first established; it is not an easy task to ensure an appropriate amount of alum is used to treat the turbidity of the water while also meeting the taste preferences of consumers. When the women heard of this, they wasted no time coming up with a creative solution: adding water from the polytank to the dugout water in the blue drums so that the alum would settle, then adding one chlorine tablet per blue drum scooped in to the polytank. This worked for the water they sold during the first days after the center opened and by the time Amin and I came to speak with the women on Monday, the problem had been completely fixed and community members no longer had any complaints about the taste of the water.

DSC01983While monitoring with Eric on Wednesday, Arasheitu, one of the entrepreneurs running the business in Kagbal, joined us for household visits. As a way to gauge our efforts to educate community members on the health benefits of drinking clean water, one of the questions we ask households when monitoring is, “Do you know why dugout water is unsafe to drink?” Anytime we asked this question and a community member would respond with, “No,” Arasheitu stepped in to explain why dugout water was unsafe to drink and the negative implications it has for health. Community members also told Eric and I that Arasheitu and her colleagues at the center, Adamu and Sanatu, were teaching people how to collect rainwater properly and reminding people to come and refill at the center with their safety storage containers on a regular basis. It was really amazing to see the level of Arasheitu’s initiative and her enthusiasm for helping her community. Eric and I also lucked out because one of the women in Kagbal had recently given birth to a baby boy and community members were celebrating the naming ceremony. Thanks to the CWS fellows and the women of Kagbal hard at work running the treatment center, this new addition to the Outdooring Kagbal 2community, Abrahim, will always have the option of clean drinking water. That is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job as Ghana Country Director.

I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting and interacting with the entrepreneurs and community members of the newly established treatment centers. As with all of the entrepreneurs we work with, these women are creative, kind, and devoted to improving the lives and health of the members of their communities. Their level of enthusiasm for running the treatment centers and the amount of hard work they put in to make sure their community has the option of clean drinking water never ceases to amaze me. I look forward to working with them during my time as Ghana Country Director.