The Lovely Ladies of CWS

All across the world, women and girls disproportionately shoulder the responsibility of collecting water for their families. Their active engagement in any water project is therefore critical to project success! Here at Community Water Solutions, we make sure that women are involved in all aspects of community water treatment and that our collaboration brings about positive health, social and economic changes in their lives. In this post, we want to take a second to celebrate the hardworking, creative, entrepreneurial, social-minded and all around WONDERFUL ladies that make drinking clean water possible for 35 villages across the Northern Region. Without further adieu, meet some of the lovely ladies of CWS…

Peter met mma Ayisha and her daughter scooping water from Jagberin's dugout to clean their polytank.

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Will we be near you?

The information sessions are kicking off to a great start! Check to see where we’ll be near you and come out and learn more about the Fellowship Program!

2012 Spring Information Sessions

University of South Carolina Wed. Feb.22nd at 6:00pm in HESC 114

University of Florida Wed. Feb.22 at 7:00pm MCC 0100 (McCarty Hall C Room 100)

George Washington University Thurs. Feb. 23rd 3:00-4:00pm in Ross Hall 237

Florida State University Thurs. Feb. 23rd at 5:30pm in Bellamy Room 207

Middlebury College Fri. Feb.24th at 12:30pm in the Hillcrest Orchard

Tulane University Mon. Feb.27th at 12:00pm in Tidewater, Room 1210

Tufts Mon. 27th at 5:30pm in Anderson Room 206

University of New Orleans Tues. Feb. 28th 1:30pm

Boston College Wed. Feb.29th at 6:00pm in McGuinn Hall 521

Colby College Thurs. March 1st at 7:00pm in the Miller Library 014

TBD: Connecticut College,  Georgetown


Updates from the Field: Moto Mania!

Tamale sure seems quiet without the 30+ 2012 Winter Fellows, assistant translators and CWS support staff! We miss their daily stories of village life, center construction, and transportation mayhem. Their communities certainly miss them too. I’ve never seen so many disappointed faces in response to my presence as I did in the first couple weeks of follow up; its hard to be the wrong salaminga!

We’ve tried to block out our post-fellowship blues with a roar of moto engines and a cloud of fresh Sahara dust, and staff has hit the ground running in the past few weeks. With nine new villages and two new districts to follow up in, it can sometimes feel like we spend more time on motos than not. With that in mind, this week’s update from the field is an homage to our favorite mode of transportation!

Wahab motos through a puddle on the way to Kpalbusi
Shak powers through the "road" to Gbateni
TJ motos to Kushini

The motos aren’t just great for rough-roading. They also are favorite props for photos! Alhassan helped us open Gidanturu’s center last week and, in return, got to pose on our Apsonic.


Baramini, Alhassan’s mother and the lady who runs the treatment center in Gidanturu, also posed for a picture.

No motos for Baramini - she's all business!

And still to come – a video montage of TJ, Shak and myself (Kathryn) taking Rodney Atkins‘ advice to heart…

Check back soon!


*UPDATE* : You can check out the video here .

2012 Fellowship Program FAQ


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 Summer Fellowship Program are due on Monday, March 5th at 5pm EST. CWS will announce the Fellowship Finalists by Friday, March 9th. If you are selected as a finalist, a member of the CWS team will interview you (via phone) sometime during March 12th thru the 16th. CWS will announce the 2012 Winter Fellows on Monday, March 19th. If selected as a Fellow, you will have until Friday, March 23rd to accept or decline your position in the program and send back a signed copy of the CWS Fellowship Program Fundraising contract. On Friday, March 23rd we will announce the Fellowship Teams and send you the contact information for your other three teammates!

We will be accepting applications for the Fall Fellowship Program  on a rolling basis with a final deadline of July 31st.  A rolling deadline means that the earlier you apply, the earlier you will be notified if you are accepted and the more time you will have to fundraise for your fellowship fee. If you are interested in coming to Ghana this Fall, apply now!

The Winter Fellowship Program will follow a similar timeline as the Summer Program and the Spring will be similar to the Fall program.

Is there any way to extend the fellowship? (i.e. to meet internship requirements)

Because the fellowship ground work is only 3 weeks long many students ask if they can extend the fellowship to count for things like internship credit. CWS considers the fellowship to be a 3 month commitment. The ground work in Ghana only lasts for 3 weeks but your responsibility as a Fellow begins as soon as you accept the fellowship. As soon as you accept you have 9 weeks to raise the $3,000.

If that doesn’t suffice, you are more than welcome to extend your “fellowship” 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. All those arrangements are not put together by CWS and are the fellow’s responsibility.

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 if I don’t raise the $3,000 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  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 $3,000?

If you raise more than the required $3,000, 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.

Can I fundraise for my flight?

You are more than welcome to fundraise for your flight and have many of our fellows have been able to accomplish this goal. However, this must be done separate from your Fellowship Fee Fundraising and donors must make their checks out directly to you, instead of Community Water Solutions. Funds donated online to CWS through your fundraising website may not be used to pay for your flight.

Trip Preparation

How much is the flight to Ghana?

The flight prices can vary greatly depending on the season and your departure city. The average price is $1,200, but typically they range from $900 to $2,000.

How do we treat the water?

As your fundraising takes off you will be frequently asked specifics about “What will you be doing?” Having a little pitch put together is usually the best idea. Fellows are the face of CWS and it is important you can explain what you’ll be doing when you are in Ghana. I put together a common conversation that takes place:

I am going to Ghana this Summer  with a small non-profit called Community Water Solutions that brings cleans drinking water to rural villages in Ghana.

Wow! That’s really cool! So do you like, build wells?

Not exactly.  In the region where CWS works, you can’t drill wells because there are not a lot of non-saline groundwater sources.  What CWS does is work with communities that are currently using surface water sources, like ponds and rivers, and help them set up for-profit water businesses.  CWS trains the women from the village how to use products that are available in the local market to treat water and make it safe to drink. They then sell that water to members of their village at an affordable price and use the money to sustain the business. All of the revenues from the businesses stays in the community- we don’t see any of that money. We fundraise all of the capital equipment to build these water treatment centers, and train the women to run them, which takes about a month, but then they are completely run by the community and CWS just visits to monitor and check up on them.

That’s really awesome! What products do you use?

We will use only two products—alum (aluminum sulfide) and chlorine. The alum is a coagulant works to remove the dirt particles and chlorine disinfects the water.


What are the top 5 things I should pack?

                  1. Bug Spray

2. Bandana/Hat

3. Snacks (granola bars, trail mix, candy, peanut butter, or anything else that packs/travels well)

4. Sunscreen

5. Books or fun card/travel-sized Board games.

What is the weather going to be like?

November thru May: Hot and very dusty. It can be a little chilly in the mornings and at night.

May-June: Transition from dry season to wet season. Chances of rain.

July-August: Hot, extremely rainy and muddy.

September-October: Transition period from wet season to dry season. Chances of rain.

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: The list of recommended vaccinations is about halfway down the webpage.

The cost of your vaccinations varies based on what you need and the coverage you get through your insurance. To get a better idea of the cost, reach out to your primary care provider.

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! 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.

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 $ 7 (10 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, go into the market, explore, go on a run, etc. 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 1 or 2 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:



Fellowship Information Sessions Booking Up!

Check out where we’ll be and come out to learn more about the Fellowship Program and ask questions! Email me, Sam at sderrick@communitywatersolutions, if you are interested in CWS holding an information session at your school and don’t see if on the list!

2012 Spring Information Sessions

Georgia Tech Thurs. Feb. 16th, 2011 6:00pm in Mason Room 142

University of Virginia Mon. Feb. 20th at 6:30pm in the Newcomb Gallery on the 3rd floor of Newcomb Hall

University of North Florida Tues. Feb 21st at 4:30pm in the Career Service Building 2, Room 1100

Virginia Tech Tues Feb. 21st at 7:00pm in McBryde 113

MIT Tues. Feb. 21st at 3:00pm in 4-145

University of South Carolina Wed. Feb.22nd at 6:00pm in HESC 114

University of Florida Wed. Feb.22 at 7:00pm MCC 0100 (McCarty Hall C Room 100)

George Washington University Thurs. Feb. 23rd 3:00-4:00pm in Ross Hall 237

Florida State University Thurs. Feb. 23rd, location TBD

Tulane University Mon. Feb.27th at 12:00pm in Tidewater, Room 1210

University of New Orleans Tues. Feb. 28th 1:30pm

Boston College Wed. Feb.29th at 6:00pm in McGuinn Hall 521

Still to be Determined– Connecticut College, Middlebury, Louisiana State University,Colby,  Harvard, Georgetown

Application for Summer and Fall Programs Are Open!

Attention college students, grad students and recent grads! Applications for both the Summer and Fall CWS Fellowship Programs are now available online! The summer program will be taking place in Tamale, Ghana from June 5th – 26th. Applications are due on March 5th at 5pm EST.  The fall program will also be held in Tamale, from October 10th – 31st. Applications for the winter program will be accepted on a rolling basis, with a final deadline of July 30th. The earlier you apply for the Fall program, the earlier you will be notified if you are accepted and the more time you will have to fundraise for your fellowship fee!

Questions? Email Sam at She will be happy to answer any and all of your questions and can also put you in touch with Fellow Alumni who are happy to chat about their experiences in Ghana!