Voices from the field: Team 2!

Day 3 of Implementation: Building Stand in Yipela/Distributing Storage Containers

Today was amazing.  It is hard to believe we could top the past week of awesome events and yet we have.  The people of Team 2 and the village of Yipela, especially the women, made it super special.  In the morning we built the stand for our polytank.  Our village really took ownership of the project.  We traced and retraced the design in the sand where the men had chosen to build the center.  Nearly 15 men came down to assemble the stand’s walls, cutting the cement bricks as needed.  Then came the cement.  The men said that Sarah and Hannah did not need to help because they were women and visitors, but Hanna would not take “no” for an answer.  As  Hannah used her hands to cement the bricks together, Sarah and a woman from the village jumped in, too.  This woman was superwoman #1 of the day.  She did the work just like the village men even though she was the only woman and she is going to help run the center.

Our surprise of the morning was receiving the household list we’d requested in our chief meeting the previous day.  We did not have 30 or 40 families, but 128 – a number nearly double what CWS had thought was most likely the village size!  So, we returned in the afternoon with Wahab, a second translator, over 100 safe storage containers, and Cam’s brilliant plan for mass distribution.  Nearly 300 people – men, women and children – gathered around the tree to hear Cam and TJ’s initial speech about how to use the “special containers for drinking water.”  Then we moved right into phase two: distribution.  TJ called out names and handed out buckets before sending people in groups of 10 to Cam.  Then Cam and Wahab reiterated the rules before people brought the buckets home.  It was so exciting to watch children running into the distance carrying a bright blue bucket.  Meanwhile, Nate, Sarah and Hannah had an extremely efficient assembly line going.  Nate cut the buckets open, Hannah taped the taps, and Sarah screwed the taps into the buckets.  In the middle of this process, we met superwoman #2.  This awesome woman danced her way from the crowd to TJ and continued dancing all the way to Cam.  She was probably around 55 years old and got the whole village cheering!

By the end of the day, Cam’s voice was hoarse and Nate, Sarah, and Hannah had  extremely sore hands.  But it was well worth it.  We had handed out nearly 70 buckets! We probably did the last 15 by flashlight before calling it a night.  We drove home giddy with excitement, listening to the only song that plays without skipping of the truck’s cds on repeat.  Team 2 has now heard the same Don Carlos song for 6 hours and the only line we can decipher is, “I woke up this morning.”  Who could have predicted the day we would have when we woke up this morning?!  We cannot wait for tomorrow! 🙂

– Team 2: Cam, Hannah, Nate & Sarah


Village volunteer takes ownership


Figuring out the bricks


Everyone building with cement


Hannah and Sarah with cement
Truck filled with buckets



The initial speech
The crowd


Sarah with buckets


Nate labeling


Working by flashlight

Voices from the field: Team 3!

Day 2 of Implementation: Community Meeting/Building Stand in Kpallabisi

Today we met with our whole community for the first time. Our village, called Kpallabisi, has about 150 households, so over 100 people turned out to hear us discuss our project.  Our translator, Peter, got to make use of the village megaphone to help Lauren explain the basics about the treatment center purification process and safe storage system.  We fielded a lot of thoughtful questions about the business model and potential problems.  It was really great to see how excited and invested everyone seemed to be even at this early stage!  We asked everyone to carefully consider our proposal and let us know if they were interested in working with us.  We must have said something right because the announcement that we would be back later in the afternoon to start work if they were interested was met with a round of applause!

That afternoon, with the approval of the chief (such a boss with a great sense of humor and future husband of team member, Kathryn) the elders and the rest of the village, we started work constructing Kpallabisi’s polytank stand.  Some men, including the village mason, and our now daily entourage of children gathered around the current village water source, a silty dugout, and chose the site for the center.  In a classic MacGyver move, one man fashioned a make-shift compass from 2 sticks and string and outlined the stand with a perfect circle.  The mason, with some help from everyone else, threw together an impressive stand skeleton from some bricks and concrete.  Everyone was laughing and joking.  The girls got some marriage proposals and arranged a suitor dance-off for the next day to help ease their weighty decision. 🙂  Even Jim got an offer from a 10-year old boy to be “married as friends”.  Moms and Dads, if we never come home, don’t worry.  It just means we’ve settled into Kpallabisi more thoroughly than we ever expected!!

“Good bye, bye bye” – Team 3: Jim, Elsie, Kathryn & Lauren


The village meeting!


Showing the village the test results.


Our yams from the chief!


Fashioning a makeshift compass to layout the center.


Children helping us carry supplies.



Cutting a brick to make the center.


The center begins to take shape!
Village men helping us build the center.


The village mason working on the center stand.