Meanwhile, in Northern Region Ghana…
Orientation is completed and our 4 water teams and 7 solar teams are beginning the work of building their new businesses! We will feature stories and pictures from all 11 teams as our program continues. Kicking off our tradition of “Voices from the Field” is Team Amin.
Today our group, comprised of Sasha, Sarah, Tara, Richard and our translator Amin, made our way out to Komlan-yili to pitch the Saha Global business model for community water filtration. After picking up our water supplies from the office we made our way out to the rural community. An hour and a half of dirt, potholed-roads later we arrived. We immediately made our way to the water source, which was predetermined as a stream nearby. After driving to the stream, it was clear the stream had dried up considerably. The seasonal change in location had forced the community members to walk farther and farther to get dirtier stream water. After walking along the dried banks we made our way to the current filling location, passing multiple women who were carrying water along the way. Without even touching the water it was clear how turbid and contaminated the stream was. While briefly talking to a group who was fetching water, we collected our sample and proceeded to make our way back to the community.
Upon returning to Komlan-yili, we drove into the heart of the community to speak with a community member. With the help of Amin, we requested a meeting with the community chief and were told to have a seat under a prominent tree among other community members while someone ran to go get him. In a short moment, a wooden reclining chair had been set in front of us and two elders took their place directly across from us. After exchanging pleasantries, the chief proceeded to ask the purpose of our visit (whether we had come to see him or were being chased and wound up there).
Here we began to explain how we suspected their water source was contaminated. We asked questions about the quality of water and if it made them sick, especially probing about diarrhea. When the elders and the community members confirmed our suspicion, we proceeded to explain how we, Saha, could provide their community with clean water using a four-step process. These steps were the following: 1) building a center to house the water, 2) training women entrepreneurs to filter the water and run the business, 3) distribute safe storage containers to each household, and 4) opening and maintaining the businesses after we leave.
Beyond this explanation we concluded that Saha does not pay the women at all and simply helps set up the business. After initial implementation, we explained, it is up to the women entrepreneurs and the community to maintain the business and ensure its success. With this final note, we asked if the elder had any questions and were told that they were very grateful to have us visit and were excited to begin work with us. Exchanging thank you’s and pleasantries once again, we set a time for a community-wide meeting the next day before giving the elder an offering of kola nuts. With much excitement, they exclaimed that they were the ones who were supposed to give us an offering and proceeded to give us eggs as a gift. With much gratitude, we accepted and took our leave to regroup back at our lodging.
– Richard, Sasha, Sarah, Amin and Tara