Voices from the Field: Isabel, Emma, Kevin, Eric and Molly

Today Team Eric jumps onto the blog with some thoughts on women’s empowerment and their time in the community of Kpenchila. 

One of Saha’s missions is to “empower women.” We have been impressed with the amount of work that the women do in the village daily.  Just some of their daily tasks include going to the dugout for water, harvesting, roasting, drying, and cracking shea nuts, cooking and taking care of the children.  In the market in Tamale, we see women selling their goods and engaging in business practices constantly.   However, we didn’t realize how integral the empowerment of the women would be to our work in Ghana. Today was our second day of training the women. After a lot of “we are so grateful” statements, came a more surprising one along the lines of “you know we are not educated so there are some parts of this that we cannot do.” They were mostly concerned about the process used to record sales every day.  It requires counting and keeping track of sales for charging the reusable batteries and cell phones.  We tried to assure them that they were completely capable and that we would work with them and practice until they felt fully comfortable. However, their response was to laugh while a nearby man said “make sure you train them well so that they don’t mess up.” This made us realize even more the importance of our work in the village. We all feel confident that the women will successfully grasp all of the technical aspects of the business, and I am eager to see them prove to both themselves and the community how able and intelligent they are. The fact that they already run a clean water business on their own, while also continuing with their previous responsibilities and taking care of their families, speaks volumes to their capabilities. So far our village has risen to the occasion with every step of the process. For example, when we arrived to our village the day after our meeting with the chief, where we pitched the project, tons of community members were already building the solar center. We couldn’t believe how efficient they were: it took only two hours to build the entire building, and they even finished plastering that night. The amount of work they put into the process makes it that much more special to the community – rather than giving them solar energy, we are working in collaboration with them to benefit everyone involved.

Eric and Isabel take notes as Lasiche explains Takpili's center
Eric and Isabel take notes as Lasiche explains Takpili’s center

– Molly, Eric, Isabel, Kevin & Emma