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.
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