Voices from the Field: Team Wahab (Renee, Bryant & Dori)

Dori, Wahab & Bryant is corrdinating outfits on opening day!

Greetings from Team Wahab aka the Gideon Soldiers!  For the past week and a half we have been implementing CWS’s clean water treatment center in the village of Cheshegu.  After a big opening day we started to monitor the households in the village.  With such a large community (approximately 175) monitoring can take some.  However, our village is full of many supportive and progressively cooperative individuals who have made the process go smoothly for our team.

Our village is broken down into four neighborhoods…so that is how we decided to tackle the monitoring process each day.  Additionally, visiting more houses during each trip has allowed us to cover more ground, interview more families, and collect additional samples for our laboratory tests. Fussina and Candy, the women in charge of the business in Cheshegu, have mentioned that only one person in the village has had a complaint about the quality/taste of the water from the polytank (alum).  However, everyone else in our village has given us very positive feedback about the water from the polytank.  The individuals of each household are excited to talk about their safe drinking water that they were able to retrieve in their new, bright, blue safe storage containers.  A particularly encouraging moment during the monitoring process occurred when a woman welcomed us into her household, tipped back her cup of clean water, smiled, thanked us for what we have done for her family, and allowed us to continue with the rest of our process.

Renee & Dori making sure to keep things organized!


In addition to monitoring the households, we have kept a keen eye on the polytank and blue drums located adjacently to the dugout.  During each visit to the dugout we have found that our four blue drums have been completely full and treated with alum. Prior to our departure on the first day of monitoring, the women came out that afternoon to scoop the alum-treated water, apply the Aquatabs, and refill the blue tanks before heading back into the village to their households.

Recently, CWS has begun to stress the importance of drinking clean water and practicing healthy habits by visiting the schools in the villages to educate the children.  By providing the schools with interactive activities, we provide a hands-on approach to a healthier lifestyle. The size of the school in Cheshegu is well…intimidating.  Getting over 200 children to stand outside side-by-side to attentively listen to what we had to say was quite the task.  However, with the help of the school’s headmaster, several teachers, and of course our energetic translator Wahab, we were able to maintain get our point across to the children.  By using volunteers for a taste test with a bottle of clean water from the polytank and another with an ungodly amount of salt diluted into it we were able to conclude to the children that “clean does not mean clean!”  That is, some dugout/rainwater might not look like it has bacteria in it, but it can still be very unsafe to drink.  Treated water from the polytank is always the best option!  After our presentation, we corralled enough volunteers together for several rounds of “Healthy Habits Tag.”  Here, the children who were “it” wielded signs that displayed various waterborne illnesses (cholera, typhoid, etc.).  Those who were tagged had to immediately sit out and recover at the hospital (a shady area under a tree).  However, individuals who held signs displaying health habits (washing your hands, drinking polytank water, etc.) were able to play longer since they were given 2 additional “lives” for the game.

School education


Voices from the Field: Team Sharifa (Sharifa: Katie, Stephanie, Sandra, and Lucas)

**Quick note: Team Sharifa wrote this post a few days ago. All the Fellows are back in Accra and are headed home today!**

Team Sharifa!
Team Sharifa!

Team Sharifa visited Namdu’s school yesterday to educate the children of the village about hygiene practices, waterborne illnesses, and use of the water treatment center. When we arrived, the teachers had already set up desks outside for the about 200 students so that we could present to them all at once. With the help of our translator Sharifa, who is also a school teacher, we explained the differences between dugout water, polytank water, and rainwater. Using a demonstration in which we asked one student to taste test two clear bottles of water, one of which was polytank water and one of which was salt water, we emphasized that ‘clear does not always mean clean.’

Clear water is not the same as clean water!
Clear water is not the same as clean water!

Sensing the children were getting a little restless, we decided a more physical activity would be a good idea. We explained the rules of Healthy Habits Tag, assigned the diseases and healthy habits to several of the children, and watched the chaos. The children had been very attentive and engaged when we spoke to them earlier, but it was clear they had built up a lot of energy. After all the children had contracted one of the various waterborne illnesses, we called them back to their seats and talked with them about why getting tagged by one of the illnesses meant you had to go to the hospital. We were thrilled to find out that many of the children had already made the connection between the healthy habits and the waterborne illnesses that the game was meant to demonstrate.

After the rousing game of tag, we introduced the concept of the safe storage containers. Each classroom received one bright blue bucket solely for polytank water. We explained to them the importance of keeping the bucket, their hands, and whatever cups they use, clean. We also demonstrated the use of the tap so that they would not dip their hands into the top as they are accustomed to. Following this quick lesson, the children all asked very good questions, addressing the issue of drinking water when working at the farm and who would be responsible for refilling the safe storage container in the classroom. The older children in particular demonstrated interest in the issue, which was great to see.

Katie, Steph, Sharifa and Lucas with some of the kids after an awesome round of Healthy Habits tag!
Katie, Steph, Sharifa and Lucas with some of the kids after an awesome round of Healthy Habits tag!

All in all, it was a great day for Team Sharifa. We had a blast with the kids and taught them the importance of safe drinking water. Students and teachers alike were extremely grateful for their new safe storage containers, and we look forward to see them enjoying clean water in the future!

Lucas, Katie, Step and Sandra by the new water treatment business in Namdu!
Lucas, Katie, Step and Sandra by the new water treatment business in Namdu!

Voices from the Field: Team Peter (Carole Anne, Lilly and Taylor)

We feel so fortunate that we got to be one of the two teams based in Salaga. Our team consists of Lilly Prince, Taylor Kirby, Carole Anne Spohn, and our translator, Peter, and we have been working in the village of Kideng for the past twelve days.

Carole Anne, Peter, Lilly, and Taylor with the chief of Kideng
Carole Anne, Peter, Lilly, and Taylor with the chief of Kideng

We have had quite an adventure in Salaga:
• Fighting off scorpions
• Being accused of kidnapping a child in the village next to Kideng. (of course we didn’t!…confusion cleared-up after an hour or so…)
• Holding newborn babies of all kinds
• Carrying water on our heads from the stream (it is even harder than it looks)
• Worrying for our lives because of our adventurous tro-tro driver (just kidding Moms… it wasn’t so bad!)
• Making new friends in the village
• Cooking gourmet meals – burgers, grilled cheeses, salads, and kabobs.
• Chilling at local spots with our translators

Team Peter with one of our awesome women entrepreneurs!

Today was unfortunately our last day in the village. It was bittersweet!
It was sad leaving everyone behind knowing we may never see them again, but we are happy that the community has clean drinking water. We started our morning out monitoring house to house wearing our awesome fanny packs. We have to wear these stylish fanny packs because they incubate our water samples taken from each house to measure for bacteria. As a group, we passed out all our gifts to the children, the chief, and the ladies who work the water business. To finish off the day, we painted a wall for the entire community.

Our time in Salaga is coming to an end; we are packing up and leaving for Tamale in the morning! The life of the party is coming back to town!


Successful Opening Days!

With opening days taking place Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week we can’t think of a better way to recap the excitement but with pictures from each of the teams!

The 7 new water treatment centers now serve clean drinking water to 3,664 people!! We are so lucky to work along side such amazing fellows!

Carole Anne, Lilly & Taylor pose with the proud ladies of Kideng!
caroline and brigid
Caroline & Brigid pose with the excited kids of Kasawuripe!
Team Shak (Victoria, Eda, Jacob & Hailey) peacesigning with their lady entrepeneurs, Mary & Fushiena on their opening day in Vogyili
Victoria, Eda, Jacob & Hailey peacesigning with their lady entrepeneurs, Mary & Fushiena on their opening day in Vogyili
Team Sharifa (Katie, Lucas, Stephanie & Sandra) post with their women entrepenuers and some kiddos in front of Namdu's up and running water treatment center
Katie, Lucas, Stephanie & Sandra with their women entrepenuers and some kiddos in front of Namdu’s up and running water treatment center
Team TJ (Maxine, Casey, Jhanel & Bryan) pose with their grateful chief!
TJ, Maxine, Casey, Jhanel & Bryan with their oh-so-grateful Chief of Kpali!IMG_2556
DSCN0219Kirsten, Sarah, Ethan, Angie & Nestor with the women as they fill their very first safe storage container of clean water in Gundaa






Voices from the Field: Team TJ (Bryan, Maxine, Jhanel & Casey)

Our Rising Tigers

Finally the day we and the villagers had been waiting for had arrived – our opening day! When we arrived at the dugout, six safe storage containers were already aligned in front of the Polytank in anticipation of getting clean drinking water. As the women arrived at the dugout to provide the drinking water, the numbers of buckets swelled from the initial six to close to forty. It was amazing to see the excitement the villagers had to finally have clean water despite the earliness of the day.


The women in charge of the water treatment center immediately took charge.  They filled up a bucket with water to clean out all of the safe storage containers and put someone in charge to oversee cleaning. One sat at the station to collect the money and even moved some of the buckets out of the way, so that she wouldn’t fill up buckets for people who hadn’t paid yet. They then used the lids when transitioning buckets so no clean drinking water would go to waste. Once a new bucket was being filled, they would use the water in the lid to top off the bucket so each household had the most water possible in their safe storage container. One of the fellows even jokingly tried to get a bucket filled for free, and one of the woman in charge laughed at her and stuck her hand out, indicating she had to pay for a full bucket. The system was very efficient and we barely played a role in assisting them, allowing them to have full reign of their business.

Halfway through opening day, the chief and elders drove up in the chief’s Ford Pickup Truck. Many of the elders had already gotten their water and told us how tasty the water had been. The chief wanted to let us know he was leaving for Tamale to run errands, but wanted to see us before he left.  From the get-go, we had always had the support of the chief; he had gathered his community to hear about our project and even talked to a few of the villagers who didn’t show up to the community meeting to ask why they didn’t come. Once again, he was showing his support by letting us know everything was going well and thanking us for our role in bringing clean water to his village.

Maxine helping the ladies fetch water!
Maxine helping the ladies fetch water!

When we were about halfway through filling up all the buckets, the Polytank ran dry. The women immediately took charge, refilling the tank with the settled water from the blue drums, and then refilling the blue drums to treat them with alum. They told the remaining people waiting in line that they would be open later in the evening once the alum had settled the water, so the remaining buckets could be filled and everyone could have clean drinking water on opening day.

Before we left, four drummers came and we danced around while the villagers watched and laughed while joining us. Finally, we left to head back to Tamale, excited for our villagers and looking forward to the upcoming days.