Voices from the Field: Robert, Katie, Morganne and Lauren

The lighting in the room flickered between light and dark as many faces took turns crowding the doorway.  The excitement was palpable.  We sat with Fati and Sowda inside our newly constructed solar center, huddled around the Genset. We soon mirrored the smiles surrounding us as our two women entrepreneurs reassembled the equipment from memory without prompting.  Having just concluded our meeting with the chief, elders, and entire community of Namdu One, it was clear that everyone knew this new clean energy business was “Ghana be a success.”

When we arrived, the chief and elders had congregated around Namdu’s emblematic big tree.  Slowly, community members of all ages (yes, even the Fulani) joined the expansive circle in expectation for a big announcement. We sat tentatively as the audience expanded.  We, dressed in freshly tailored Ghanaian fabric, and the elders well dressed in colorful smocks and tunics, set the mood.  Despite our nerves, we began to officially present what we had been working on for the last week.

Highlights included the dangers of kerosene and lead acid batteries as well as the benefits of solar energy and an outline of the solar business. Attempting to showcase the awesome durability of the Burro brand waterproof lanterns, our hearts collectively stopped: our showy toss of the plastic light to the ground took a turn for the worse, and the batteries and backing popped out.  The crowd was unimpressed to day the least. But we recovered our demonstration when we plunged the lit buoyant lantern into a murky bucket of dugout water.  Still lit, we walked it around the chief and elders who then regained confidence in the product. IMG_5284
Whether it’s due to the newly installed solar panels or the anticipation of our opening night, there is electricity in the air of Namdu one.  And when we did not think the day could get any brighter, Katie fulfilled her dream of riding a donkey.


Team Khadijah: Robert, Lauren, Katie, Morganne

Voices from the Field: Kelsey, Kelly, Wahab, Bria & Jessie

Just two days ago we were thrown a curveball when our women entrepreneurs, Abiba and Amina, requested that we move our opening day from Monday to Sunday. Team Wahab collectively decided that we were up to the challenge! After two long, hot days of distributing Safe Storage Containers to all 54 families in our community, and working with our women entrepreneurs to fill a whole polytank with clean water, we were ready for opening day.


While Wahab, our translator, made a last minute fix on one of the three blue drums, Kelly and Kelsey pumped up the mood with an impromptu dance party. Since the discovery that jump-rope in Dagbani, the local language, is “Tsamina mina”, “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” by Shakira has become our team jam. The kids in our community are also very familiar with the song and often sing along with us. It’s amazing that Shakira has been able to transcend language barriers and help us build relationships with the kids in our community  All the while, women were starting to arrive with their Safe Storage Containers, excited to provide their families with their first supply of clean water.


Amina and Abiba were treated as celebrities upon arrival; and so the wild rumpus began!    In efforts to stay organized amidst this wild crowd, Jessie marked off containers on the household list, Bria labeled containers— since our Sharpie from yesterday turned out to be a dry-erase marker—Kelly and Kelsey rationed soap, and Wahab checked for leaky buckets. Our super-star women entrepreneurs collected money and put smiles on the faces of all their friends with their newly treated, safe drinking-water! Over 40 households sent a representative to fetch polytank water!

Our only bump in the road was when we ran out of water in the polytank. Unfortunately, last night’s alum treatment was a little too conservative— if you use too much alum, it can affect the taste of the water—  so a quick refill was not in the cards. Amina and Abiba optimistically retreated the dugout water in the blue drums, announcing to the few remaining customers that they would re-open for business in the evening. As it turns out, because most of the community is fasting for Ramadan, they can’t actually drink water until sundown. Everyone will have delicious drinking-water in no time!


When asked about their plans for business hours later in the week, Amina and Abiba did not have to discuss their schedules. Instead, they excitedly announced that they hope to open for business everyday!

– Kelsey, Bria, Wahab, Kelly & Jessie