This week, CWS staff had the chance to spend some quality time in villages new and old.
In Kpalbusi, we checked in on the village’s Fulani community. The Fulani are a group of people with a really different lifestyle than the farmers that make up the majority of our villages. They specialize in raising and herding cattle and live a more nomadic lifestyle, and therefore are a little less settled and a little more transient than most of CWS’ customers. Their settlements are often removed from the central village space, which makes them an interesting challenge for follow-up monitoring! Even so, it is worth taking the time to track the Fulani down. They always offer a unique perspective on village life and CWS’ water treatment operations specifically.
Since the rainy season began, polytank opening hours in Kpalbusi have become less scheduled. Unfortunately this means that the nine Fulani households have had a difficult time getting to the polytank when it is open. After discussions with the Fulani, Zillifau (one of Kpalbusi’s center operators) and Sachi (Chief) Mohammed alHassan, we all agreed to establish two days with set center hours to help the Fulani with planning. Great teamwork all!
We also spent some time this week in Tacpuli, a Summer 2011 Fellowship village. On Wednesday we spoke to Lashiche who reports that the villagers are all doing a good job of visiting the center regularly. She had one complaint: the polytank had a leak which was making filling difficult. So we came back the next day with materials and showed her how to fix leaks in the future.
If your favorite village did not get mentioned in this post, don’t worry! CWS has started using this awesome new web platform that will allow you to follow your village’s monthly ins and outs online! Check it out at ghanawaters.crowdmap.com. Set up alerts to get email notifications of your favorite village’s status, or peruse any and all reports at your leisure. Now you don’t have to wait for blog updates from the field – real time village information is at your fingertips!
This week was a big week for celebrations here at CWS. Reports are in that the benefit in Boston was a great success and an amazing evening in general. All of us here in Tamale wish we could have attended and are really thankful for all the generosity and support from the ever-growing circle of CWS friends and family.
We also had a fun “Graduation Goat Roast” to celebrate field staffer TJ’s recent degree in Management Studies here at the CWS Ghana office. In the spirit of honoring TJ’s big accomplishment, I though I’d continue my updates from the field with another staff profile, and, without further ado:
Mr. Sulemana Tijani
Sulemana Tijani (or ‘TJ’ to us clumsy-tonged salamingas) was born in Tamale and has lived here all his life. He has two sisters. He just earned a business degree in Management Studies from Tamale Polytechnic, and he hopes to bring these newly-certified skills with him to the job.
Some fun facts about TJ:
Favorite Hairstyle: “sakura – removing every hair from your head”. Yes, he is currently bald.
He has one ear pierced. He got it done in senior high “because I was a star and wanted to look like one”. TJ’s mother and mine share similar views on secret ear-piercings, however, so he doesn’t wear it much anymore.
In junior and senior high TJ played soccer/football for his school. His position was striker, and his all-star inspiration is Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Dede Ayew (Ghana Black Stars and Marseille). He scored 22 goals in his career.
Favorite Singer: Akon
Favorite Food: Banku and hot Pepe
Favorite TV show: “Spartacus: Blood and Sand”
If he was an animal, he says he would be a cow.
Favorite Color: Black
TJ is also a recent Facebook convert, so if you would like to keep in touch “Friend” him there!
The First Annual Community Water Solutions Benefit was a huge success! We had such a great time celebrating CWS’ first 3 years and raised $10,000 for our cause! We can’t wait to share the awesome photos by April K!
We’d like to thank all of the amazing people who helped to make this event possible, especially our supporting sponsors: Eaton Vance Investments and Foley Hoag, LLC; our awesome performers: Sid Sriram, Overboard, and the LE Project; our great beverage sponsors: The Boston Beer Company, Trader Joes, Bullard’s Market and Package Store, Palumbo Liquors, Upper Falls Wine and Liquors, Hanover Wine and Spirits, and the Medfield Wine Shoppe; Warren Anderson for putting together both of the awesomeCWS Videos; all of our amazing donors who contributed items to the silent auction; the incredibly hardworking event committee: Sarah Wood, Mike Kearney, Sarah Fletcher, Karla Franco, Guillermo Guitierrez, and Vanessa Green; and of course, the W Hotel who generously donated the event-space and were wonderful to work with.
Finally, we would like to thank everyone who attended the Benefit. It was so great to share this special evening with all of you. We are so grateful for your support!
Unfortunately, we faced some unexpected setbacks this week. Don’t panic! The villages continue to do great work. It was our transportation, the weather and sometimes even our own bodies that didn’t seem to be cooperating. All are par for the course though, as those of you who have spent any time here can attest.
The silver lining to these (sometimes literally) cloudy days was my chance to spent quality time with CWS’ field staff, who can handle just about any problem fate throws their way. This morning I found myself sitting in a compound chatting with Wahab, and we decided that this week’s update from the field would be devoted to this most elusive of staffers. Don’t let his initial shyness deter you! Wahab kept me laughing all morning, and is a demon on the moto. For more about our always trendy translator, read on:
Mr. Abdul Wahab Lawal
Wahab was born and raised in Tamale and has lived in the same house all his life. He is the baby of the family, with two older brothers and three older sisters. His favorite place to visit is Accra – his sister lives near the beach and he goes every Sunday he is in town. He joined the CWS team in October 2010, after working as a small business owner.
Favorite Movie: Home Alone (Most Recent Viewing: last night)
Favorite TV Show: Prison Break (Wahab knows more about the California State Penitentiary System than should be legal).
Favorite Color: Cream (He just painted his room – you guessed it – cream).
Its hard to believe that its been two whole weeks without the fellows here! Shak, Peter, Wahab, TJ and I really miss their help and insight and entertainment. Luckily all groups did a wonderful job implementing, so monitoring the new seven has been a breeze.
We’ve also spent a lot of time back in the older villages, which we didn’t get to see much of during the fellowship period. In Zanzugu-Yipela, we constructed a rainwater catchment center that will help the village with its first rainy season (pictures to follow as soon as camera malfunctions are dealt with), and everybody is really excited about the new addition! Gbong’s rain catchment center is also up and running – just in time for the big storms that blow through now. We have also been having community meetings in many of the older villages, to talk about everything from rainwater collection to group problem solving, and it has been great to get to know familiar faces from the villages a little bit better.
In my first couple weeks on the job, I’ve really been struck by the profound impact the fellows in particular have on their adopted villages. Kids in newer villages are still doing the handshakes and back-flips the Summer 2011 Fellows taught them, and the people I meet doing household visits in older ones still can remember the excitement of opening day and tell me the importance of a special drinking water cup. Many of the older fellowship villages have asked about fellows by name and have hilarious stories to tell us about implementation. As a fellowship alumnus myself, its good to know that the tremendous energy fellows and locals alike put into passing out buckets and transcending language barriers and problem-solving in traditional committees has been channeled into something that seems to be lasting.