Voices from the field: Team 5!

Tyte Tyte Tyte: The Adventures of Team 5 in Zanzugu

Our day in Zanzugu began with twenty dust-covered kids piling into the back of the jeep to help bring bags of cement and concrete blocks to the dugout for the Polytank stand. We got down and dirty with the kids and mixed cement with our hands, guided by our expert mason, translator, driver, food connoisseur, mechanic, and Ghana’s number one freestyle rapper, Shak. After a long day of work, we were glad to see the first step of our project come to life.


Shak, Pranav, Shalyn, Sarah, and Lina in the half-finished Polytank stand

The next day, we mixed gravel, sand, and cement to fill in the Polytank stand. Sarah got to try her hand at off-road trucking and successfully made it back in one piece, much to our relief. In true Ghanaian fashion, Lina and Pranav carried buckets full of dirt on their heads.


Pranav has fun plastering the stand with some of the boys

After we finished the final layer of plaster, we all wrote our names in the wet cement, officially making our mark in Ghana.


As the rest of the team admired their handiwork, Lina decided to take a nap (per usual)

While Pranav was off playing with the boys, the ladies got to spend some quality time with Fati and Hazara, the two women chosen to run the treatment center. We rolled alum balls together and swirled them in the blue drums full of dugout water. Aluminum sulfide is a coagulant that causes dirt particles in the turbid water to flock together and sink to the bottom. Finding the right balance of alum is important because too much can lead to sickness and not enough will leave the water turbid – it’s a learning process for all of us. Fati and Hazara scooped the clear water into the Polytank and added Aquatabs (chlorine in tablet form) to rid the water of E. Coli and other microbes. We then taught Fati and Hazara how to set aside the correct amount of money to purchase more Aquatabs and alum in order to maintain a self-sustaining business.


Sarah, Shak, and Lina roll alum balls with Fati and Hazara

The last and most hectic step before opening day was distributing the safe storage containers. Initially, we didn’t think distribution would be difficult, but with nearly fifty households in the village, it proved to be a daunting task. At first, we went household-to-household and talked to people individually, which worked well because we had two translators with us. The next day, while we were assembling the containers, villagers formed a crowd around us so we experimented with a new approach. We trained villagers in small groups at the center of the village, speeding up the process but adding an element of chaos. This new method put our management skills to the test, but once we got ourselves organized the rest of the training went smoothly.


Wahab translating Shalyn’s explanation of how to use the safe storage containers

Overall, we had few setbacks but recently two of our members fell victim to Fufu-itis. Even though Pranav and Sarah have experienced fever, stomach cramps, dehydration, and light-headedness, they just can’t stop running.

But no worries, they are in the safe hands of Dr. Kate and a strong regimen of Cipro.

-Team 5: Shalyn, Sarah, Lina and Pranav