Team 7-also known as the Fufu Fighters- has been busy beginning the implementation process of their water center; however, we had an interesting start to our process.
We began our implementation process in one village, but ended up switching to a different village to actually implement in. Unlike the other teams, we had two chief meeting experiences that were completely different from each other. The first one was in our first village and it was very informal with just the chief and the chairman. The second one was in our new village and it was very traditional with the chief, chairman, elders, and any men who happened to wander into the chief’s meeting hut at the time of our meeting. By witnessing these two meetings in two different villages, we got to see how different some governmental systems are within any village in Ghana.
Our first village actually had a rain water collection tank set up by another NGO and the chief mentioned in our meeting that it was very difficult to find someone to run that operation in the village. He told us his people were stubborn and that they wouldn’t want to put in the work at our center to have clean water when they already had a rainwater collection tank. When we asked about the use of the rain tank, the chairman told us they only use it during the rainy season, which leaves them with the dugout water during the dry season. This meant that a CWS water center would still be very helpful in this village.
We left the first day, intending to come back the next day to get a decision from the chief. When we came back the next day, there happened to be a funeral going on, so we were unable to talk to the chief; however, we did talk to the chairman and he told us that the chief was not very supportive of our system simply because he didn’t think his people would take to it well. The chairman was telling us the opposite in his opinion. He said he talked to some people in the village and they were all onboard…which meant we had a slight problem. It seemed the village really wanted us to be there, but the chief didn’t. Also, the chief was refusing to let us talk to his people, so we had only communicated with himself and the chairman at this point.
Our experience in this village was SO different from what all the other teams were going through. They had enthusiastic chiefs and community meetings…so it seemed our process wasn’t going as planned, which worried me. When we reported our concerns back to Kate, she assured us that it would be possible to implement in a village with a difficult chief, but we’d need to work really hard and overcome many roadblocks along the way.
After a team meeting and a thorough evaluation of the situation, we decided that our water center would probably be more successful, at least at this time, in a different village. We figured since rainy season is just beginning, it would be hard to compete with the rainwater tank anyway. It seemed to make more sense to implement this village in the dry season when they are running out of rainwater. So, CWS is going to keep this village on their list of villages to visit later when: 1. It’s dry season and 2. The chief’s more supportive. Hannah went back to that village and told the chairman our decision, as well as encouraged him to try to get the chief onboard for when CWS does come back.
So, after this slight set back, the Fufu Fighters worked hard to make up for lost time. We ended up having a great chief meeting at our new village-with a chief who is very, very enthusiastic about the project-as well as a meeting with the community about the center. In fact, the chief said something that basically embodies everything CWS stands for. He said, “Clean water is life. And every person deserves life. Since you are bringing clean water, you are also bringing life to this village.”
We’ve been working hard, and getting dirty, for the past two days building our polytank stand. Our new village is really excited for the center and we feel very welcomed by everyone. I think I can speak for everyone on my team when I say that we had an unusual beginning, but ended up catching up and making a great decision in terms of switching villages. The community support as well as the chief’s support is very important in order to make a CWS water center successful. We feel as if we have the greatest support in this new village-hopefully, in time, the other chief will be influenced to support a center for his people as well.
-Christina, Cassie, Xi and Heather