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#Sahayili16 Reflections on the 2016 Summer Global Leadership Program

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

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

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

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

With gratitude,

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

Bamvim - Anita, Jack, Yanshu, Laura

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Mcrid, Arielle, Kanaha, Lexie and Nestor in Jukuku

Mcrid, Arielle, Kanaha, Lexie and Nestor in Jukuku

 

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

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

 

Ayodele, Olivia, Lorry in the community of Komlanyili

Ayodele, Olivia, Lorry in the community of Komlanyili

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Christina, Bethany, Sam, Julia and Sumaya in Sankunpe

Christina, Bethany, Sam, Julia and Sumaya in Sankunpe

 

Ashley, Lauren, Kate, Amina and John in Tantuani

Ashley, Lauren, Kate, Amina and John in Tantuani

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

Field Rep Voices: Team Wahab, Ryan, Kristen, Kevonté & Rachael

And now, we hand it over to the Field Reps! In the next series of blog posts, water and solar teams will discuss their work from their perspective. Take it away Team Wahab….

Day 1 In Yepala

Ti Puhiriyah, we are so happy to greet you!!! We five will be working together on this Solar Electricity project in Tamale, Ghana (third largest city in Ghana) for the rural village community of Yepala in East Gonja District in the Northern Region of Ghana. We are staying in GILLBT Hostel near Tamale and our drive from campus to Yepala is about 30 minutes with smooth roads. We take turns sleeping in the trunk. “OH NO, no one gets to have the trunk everyday,” half-jokes Kristen. Our next teammate is Tomas, or Kobe for his cool friends, who is the taxi driver, in the smooth station wagon.

The mornings are cool and cloudy, we wake early in the day before 06:00 AM breakfast and leave for Yepala at 06:30 AM. The first day we went to Yepala was 7 June 2016, the drive there we saw wide open fields with plenty of lush green vegetation and red brown dirt on the roads and the sides. As we pull into Yepala, a man is chilling on a bench in a black traditional shirt with white traditional religious hat, greeting us with good morning in Dagbani, Desibah with we returned with: well, Nnaa. We got out of the taxi and Wahab told the man who we are, Saha Global Field Representatives who are looking for the Chief, Na. We want to schedule meeting with Na. We learned that this man in black shirt was the Chairman of the Yepala Community, literally right-hand man of the Na. He says that Na has gone to the farm to handle some business. We will schedule meeting with Council of Elders, because anything that they decide, Na will go agree with because they work together and he is one part of many. We go to speak with the Elders about wuntan buhum (solar electricity) and they say Thank you, we were not expecting you or this opportunity today, and of course they want to add wantan buhum to their community because it is a good thing. We ask them if they use any electricity at night, and they say that a few people have some small lanterns that they use disposable, lead-acid batteries in —  Tigerwatt and Sun, locally retailed Chinese brands.

When we met the Elders they were standing around a young goat, who was suspended in the grip of two men, upside down. A veterinarian was standing, administering some white liquid in a syringe to his mouth, then a different brown syringe to his butt, then checked his vitals and let him go on his way. The vet was dressed in more Western-type clothes, so we knew that he and his assistant were from outside of the community.


We returned to the spot where we left Kobe at the taxi where we met the Chairman, with the Elders this time. We shared some Cola Nuts, for a ritual sign of respect in the tradition. Each person is to take a small bite to seal the deal, sign the ending.The Cola Nut tasted a bit bitter and the taste stayed in my mouth for about 20 minutes throughout the ride home. They did not take the Cola immediately because of respect to Ramadan, Islamic month of fasting for Allah has just started, yet they expressed much gratitude at our coming and sharing. We agreed to meet at the same time tomorrow, around 7AM.

Team Wahab meets with elders from the community of Yepala to discuss a solar charging center!

Team Wahab meets with elders from the community of Yepala to discuss a solar charging center!

2015 Summer Program ends with a dance circle

IMG_3293Dear Kelly, Jessie, Bria, Kelsey, Rachel, Andrew, Val, Sol, Jessica, Phoebe, Mekleet, Britt, Molly, Isabel, Kevin, Emma, Hunter, Lindsey, Greta, Heidi, Josh, Camille, Hallie, Paul, Cassi, Dani, Robert, Lauren, Morganne, Katie, Dawnelle, Kristely, Nardos, Tara, Sarah, Richard, Sasha, Danaite, Elizabeth, Maggie & Havana,

We can’t believe that it was just a little over a week ago that we were sitting at the top of Giddipass cheers-ing all your hard work, closing the 2015 Summer Global Leadership Program with an epic dance circle.

YOU DID IT! We are so grateful for your dedication to fundraise, visit doctors, and struggle with visas, sit on a 12+ plane ride followed by an 18 hour bus ride, smush into a taxi for a ~2 hour ride out to your village, work under the sweltering African heat and sun, eat the chicken and rice, jump in the cold showers, and own the layer upon layers of dirt.

Working in some of the most remote villages in the Northern Region is hard work. The work to get these businesses up and running is grueling. Some days you may have asked yourself,  “What the heck am I doing here?” But each day you rose to the occasion. Each day you were quickly reminded of the end goal, maybe from watching a child run to the dugout to grab a drink of extremely turbid water, talking to a mother about the effects of kerosene she has seen within her family, or chattin’  with the chief and elders about their community’s options for water or electricity.

Words can hardly express our gratitude. We really enjoyed getting to know each of you. Your passion and drive are infectious. From the moment you arrived in Ghana we were impressed by your energy, go-getter spirits, and ability to learn on the fly. You all were exactly what we needed on our team to reach our goal of 11 new businesses this summer. We are so proud of the work that you were able to accomplish and feel fully confident in the sustainability of the businesses that you implemented during your time in Ghana. Thanks to each of you, approximately 1,320 people now have a permanent source of clean drinking water, 2,240 people have access to solar electricity and 28 women have become business owners.

Welcome to the Saha Family!

Sincerely,

Kate, Shak, Peter, Sam, Amin, Kathryn, Wahab & Eric

Yepala - Kelly Jessie Wahab Bria Kelsey

Kelly, Jessie, Wahab, Bria & Kelsey worked in Yepela to bring a source of clean drinking water to 456 people and a new job opportunity to Abiba & Amina.
Yakura - Cassie Sharifa Dani Paul

Cassie, Sharifa, Dani & Paul worked in Yakura to bring a source of electricity to 184 people and a new job opportunity to Ayi and Awabu.
Warivi - Nardos Kristely Dawnelle Sita

Nardos, Kristely, Dawnelle & Sita worked in Warivi brought a source of clean drinking water to 392 people and a new job opportunity to Fati, Fesina, Salamatu & Zuleha.
Vogyili - Nestor Josh Hallie Camille

Nestor, Josh Hallie & Camille worked in Vogyili to bring a source of electricity to 264 people and a new job opportunity to Asia, Fushina & Sanatu.
Namdu 2 - Andrew Sol Rachel Val

Andrew, Sol, Rachel, Val and Shak worked in Namdu 2 to bring a source of electricity to 288 people and a new job opportunity to Fusiena, Rabi and Wumbe.
Namdu 1 - Morganne Katie Khadijah Robert Lauren

Morganne, Katie, Khadijah, Robert & Lauren worked in Namdu to bring a source of electricity to 544 people and a new job opportunity to Fatima & Sowda.
Kpenchilla_Isabel_Emma_Kevin_Eric_Molly

Isabel, Emma, Kevin, Eric and Molly worked in Kpenchilla to bring a source of electricity to 512 people and a new job opportunity to Zuera, Sana and Damu.
Komlanyili - Sasha Richard Sarah Tara Amin

Sasha, Richard, Sarah, Tara and Amin worked in Komlanyili to bring a source of clean drinking water to 272 people and a new job opportunity to Nina & Safia.
Jangbarayili - Hunter Lindsey Greta Heidi Jaleel

Hunter, Lindsey, Greta, Heidi & Jaleel worked in Jangbarayili to bring 176 people a source of electricity and a new job opportunity to Aisha & Salamatu.
Belmapuso - Britt Phoebe Mekleet Jessica TJ

Britt, Phoebe, Mekleet, Jessica & TJ worked in Belampuso to bring a source of electricity to 272 people and a new job opportunity to Beremina, Damu and Sana.
Bamvim - Elizabeth Havana Simply Danaite Maggie

Elizabeth, Havana, Simply. Danaite and Maggie worked in Bamvim to bring a source of clean drinking water to 200 people and a new job opportunity to Mariama and Hawabu.

Voices from the Field: Kelsey, Kelly, Wahab, Bria & Jessie

Just two days ago we were thrown a curveball when our women entrepreneurs, Abiba and Amina, requested that we move our opening day from Monday to Sunday. Team Wahab collectively decided that we were up to the challenge! After two long, hot days of distributing Safe Storage Containers to all 54 families in our community, and working with our women entrepreneurs to fill a whole polytank with clean water, we were ready for opening day.

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While Wahab, our translator, made a last minute fix on one of the three blue drums, Kelly and Kelsey pumped up the mood with an impromptu dance party. Since the discovery that jump-rope in Dagbani, the local language, is “Tsamina mina”, “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” by Shakira has become our team jam. The kids in our community are also very familiar with the song and often sing along with us. It’s amazing that Shakira has been able to transcend language barriers and help us build relationships with the kids in our community  All the while, women were starting to arrive with their Safe Storage Containers, excited to provide their families with their first supply of clean water.

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Amina and Abiba were treated as celebrities upon arrival; and so the wild rumpus began!    In efforts to stay organized amidst this wild crowd, Jessie marked off containers on the household list, Bria labeled containers— since our Sharpie from yesterday turned out to be a dry-erase marker—Kelly and Kelsey rationed soap, and Wahab checked for leaky buckets. Our super-star women entrepreneurs collected money and put smiles on the faces of all their friends with their newly treated, safe drinking-water! Over 40 households sent a representative to fetch polytank water!

Our only bump in the road was when we ran out of water in the polytank. Unfortunately, last night’s alum treatment was a little too conservative— if you use too much alum, it can affect the taste of the water—  so a quick refill was not in the cards. Amina and Abiba optimistically retreated the dugout water in the blue drums, announcing to the few remaining customers that they would re-open for business in the evening. As it turns out, because most of the community is fasting for Ramadan, they can’t actually drink water until sundown. Everyone will have delicious drinking-water in no time!

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When asked about their plans for business hours later in the week, Amina and Abiba did not have to discuss their schedules. Instead, they excitedly announced that they hope to open for business everyday!

– Kelsey, Bria, Wahab, Kelly & Jessie