The rainy season has begun here in Northern Ghana! This means a lot of things for village life:
Villager’s days, (storms permitting), are comparatively busier than during the dry season.
Shea nuts were collected and dried before the rains started, and now many afternoons are spent churning this delicious-smelling paste by hand.
It is incredible how fast things grow now, and the villages are almost unrecognizable for those of us who remember them from January. TJ and I actually got lost on the way to Kushini’s dugout because the grasses had grown so much since our last visit. Good thing we were able to snag Nash here as a guide!
Traditionally during the rainy season, many villagers switch over to rainwater collection so they don’t have to mess with turbid dugout water. In villages with lots of tin roofs, like Yipela, Cheko, Kpalbusi, Gidanturu, and even Tacpuli or Kushini, this means that people are able to use their safe storage containers to capture funneled rainwater. However, in other villages, like Zanzugu-Yipela, Gbateni or Kpalguni, there aren’t enough tin roofs to go around, so many people still rely on the center for drinking water. Needless to say this is a difficult time for monitoring, as some centers remain almost empty (settled blue drums standing by should scooping be necessary) while others deal with even higher demands (Wambong villagers seem to drink even more when it rains). It is also the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, so people aren’t drinking during the day anyway. Lastly, CWS suggestions about healthy rainwater collection take a while to reach every house, so we often find a few empty buckets whose owners weren’t aware that they could use their containers for saa khom (rainwater). This all sounds a bit complicated, but household visits help us feel out village patterns and make it easier to go with the flow. To see how the rain impacted center operations in your favorite villages, check out ghanawaters.crowdmap.com at the end of the month!
As for Shak, TJ, Peter, Wahab and myself, we are just happy when we wake up to roads dry enough to get out of town and into the field!
Thinking of applying to the CWS Fellowship Program but have a few questions? This post is for you! Below are a few of our Frequently Asked Questions:
What are you looking for in a CWS Fellow?
CWS is looking for CWS Fellows who are self starters; passionate about social innovation and sustainable development; take initiative; give and absorb constructive feedback; take pride in their work; approach problems with patience and pluck; dedicated to constant improvement; put self and team on the same plane not ahead of them, help others to become better, and who are open to new learning all the time; have the highest personal integrity; and approach projects with passion and professionalism.
What is the application timeline?
Applications for the 2012 Winter Fellowship Program are due on Monday, September 26th at 5pm EST. CWS will announce the Fellowship Finalists by Friday, September 30th. If you are selected as a finalist, a member of the CWS team will interview you (via phone) sometime during the first week of October. CWS will announce the 2012 Winter Fellows on Monday, October 10th. If selected as a Fellow, you will have until Friday, October 14th to accept or decline your position in the program and send back a signed copy of the CWS Fellowship Program Fundraising contract. On Friday, October 14th we will announce the Fellowship Teams and send you the contact information for your other three teammates!
The Summer Session will follow a similar timeline.
Is there any way to extend the fellowship? (i.e. to meet internship requirements)
Because the fellowship fieldwork is only 3 weeks long many students ask if they can extend the fellowship to count for things like internship or practicum credit. CWS considers the fellowship to be a 3 month commitment. The fieldwork in Ghana only lasts for 3 weeks but your responsibility as a Fellow begins as soon as you accept your position in the program and you begin the 9-week fundraising period.
If that doesn’t suffice, you are more than welcome to extend your trip to Ghana longer than 3 weeks but CWS only takes care of the organization of the actual CWS Fellowship program portion. We have had many fellows find plenty of research opportunities in Tamale or to continue back home in the U.S. However, those arrangements are not put together by CWS and are the Fellow’s responsibility.
What if I don’t raise the $2,500 Fellowship Fee in time?
You will be given 9 weeks to raise funds to cover your Fellowship Fee. If you are unable to raise enough funds to cover the entire Fellowship Fee, you will be responsible for covering the remaining balance before traveling to Ghana. However, once you return home, you will be able to continue to fundraise and CWS will reimburse you for any additional donations that are made on your team’s behalf.
What is the money that I raised used for?
The Fellowship Fee is used by Community Water Solutions to cover the cost of your team’s in-country expenses. These expenses include your in-country travel, lodging & food, your project costs (project materials, water quality tests & lab materials, Fellow training & educational materials, translator salaries, and transportation to & from your village), as well as the long-term monitoring costs of following-up with your community after your team leaves Ghana. The Fellowship Fee does not cover your flight to Ghana, your travel vaccinations or Visa fee.
What if I raise over $2,500?
If you raise more than the required $2,500, the extra funds will be split among the other 3 members of your team until everyone has reached their fundraising goal. If every member of your team exceeds your fundraising goal, the extra funds will be donated to CWS to help us grow the Fellowship Program so that we are able to offer this opportunity to more young people in the future.
What is the average age of a CWS Fellow?
The average age of a CWS Fellow is 21 years old, but we typically have Fellows ranging in age from 18 to 35 years old.
What are the top 5 things I should pack?
Snacks (granola bars, trail mix, candy, peanut butter, or anything else that packs/travels well)
Books or fun card/travel-sized Board games.
What is the weather going to be like?
Winter Session: Hot and very dusty. It can be a little chilly in the mornings and at night.
Summer Session: Hot, rainy and muddy.
What vaccinations do I need?
The only required vaccination to enter Ghana is the Yellow Fever vaccine. CWS also requires all of our Fellows to take anti-Malaria medication during their trip.
There are many other vaccinations recommended by the CDC for travel to sub-Saharan Africa. For the full list, please visit their website: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/ghana.htm. The list of recommended vaccinations is about halfway down the webpage.
How much money of my own should I bring?
It depends whether you are going to do much traveling before or after the Fellowship Program. We usually recommend that Fellows bring about $200 in cash, which is more than enough to cover any gifts/souvenirs that you may want in the market and a couple dinners out (if you choose to eat out instead of eating at the guest house) but will not cover the cost of extensive post-trip travel. Do not bring travelers checks, they are not accepted by any store or vendors in Ghana. You can exchange your money when you arrive in Ghana – the counter is right by baggage claim at the airport. If you do end up needing more cash while you are in Ghana, you can use your American bankcard to withdraw money from an ATM. There are plenty of them around Tamale and they are very easy to access (Barclays, EcoBank and Standard Charter each have multiple branches in Tamale).
Can I bring things for the children in my village?
If you have extra room in your suitcase, feel free to bring along candy, toys, clothing, shoes, books or anything else that you, or your friends and family would like to donate to people in your village. The kids especially love soccer balls! The only thing we ask is that you wait until the end of your trip (either on opening day at your water business or on your last day in the village) to give things to people in your community.
Where will I be staying once we are in Ghana?
When you are staying in Accra you will be staying at a Chen Lien Hotel.
When you are in Tamale you will be staying at Gillbt Guest House. You can read through the CWS Blog to see some pictures of past Fellows on the Gillbt campus.
What is the food like?
Gillbt guesthouse does a great job of preparing food that is safe for us non-Ghanaians to eat. However, there is not much variety! The meals are usually some combination of chicken and rice. Packing an extra snack or two is definitely a good idea. Also, while the cooks at Gillbt try their best to accommodate dietary restrictions, they are not used to cooking for vegetarians/vegans and there are very little non-meat protein options for them to work with in Ghana. If you do not eat meat, definitely pack other sources of protein that you can snack on (nuts, protein bars, peanut butter, etc).
Will I have running water?
Yes. Each room at Gillbt sleeps 2 people and has their own bathroom—sink, toilet, shower. The rooms also have AC and a mini-fridge.
Can I drink the water there?
Gillbt provides water filters that you can use to filter the tap water. Other than that you should only drink bottled water, which is widely available in the area.
Can I do laundry?
Gillbt will do your laundry for about $3 (5 Ghana Cedis) per basket of laundry. They will provide you with a laundry basket in your room. If you dropped off your dirty laundry basket at the reception desk in the morning, it will be ready by the next morning at the latest.
Is there much down time?
Yes, although you will be working hard and spending a lot of time in your village, you will have some down time to relax at the guesthouse or go into the market and explore. Most Fellowship Teams end up going to their village very early in the morning before it gets too hot (around 5 or 6 am), and are back from the field around 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Dinner and the “Daily Debrief” are usually around 6:30 or 7 so Fellows typically have a couple of hours of downtime in the late afternoon and are then free for the night after the Debriefs are finished.
Where can I travel to after the fellowship?
While Ghana is a great country, there are not a lot of big tourist-y sites to see. Depending on your water business implementation goes, you may have one day to explore on a day trip outside Tamale.
If you are trying to factor in a few days before or after the trip, most Fellows choose to go to the Cape Coast to see the forts or to Takoradi for the beach. While CWS can make travel and guest house recommendations, we do not coordinate the end-of-trip or post-fellowship travel. We would recommend picking up the Bradt Ghana Guide Book: http://www.bradtguides.com/Book/120/Ghana.html.
Couldn’t find the answer to your question? Shoot an email to Sam (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she’ll be happy to answer it for you!