Abiba was born in Gbandu. Her father was once the chief of Gbandu, making Abiba a princess! She got married in Gbandu and has been living there all her life. She has given birth to 7 children, two boys and five girls; two of which passed away when they were young. Alongside running the water business, Abiba farms groundnuts and millet.
She has been running the water treatment business with Mariama since it was implemented in June of 2012. “I remember the morning the Field Reps came to visit Gbandu for the first time,” Abiba recollects, “they informed us of an opportunity that would provide the entire community clean drinking water. I was so happy that the village elders chose me to be one of the entrepreneurs.”
Gbandu now has piped water but Abiba says, despite that, she still make sales! “Depending on the season the taps can be off for weeks.” As this can happen frequently throughout the year, Mariama and Abiba continue to treat water to ensure the community has a source of clean drinking water. “Whenever there is clean water at the center, we make a community announcement to let everyone know.”
My name is Claire Cohen. I grew up in Rockville, Maryland. I study Psychology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. During the summer of 2014, I participated as a Saha Global field representative in Salaga, implementing a water treatment center. I was immediately interested in the idea of being a Field Rep after viewing the website and reading about Saha’s mission and the process that is carried out in Ghana. Working with great people and experiencing another culture was an amazing opportunity.
My experience in Ghana has allowed me to open my perspective, learn about international service work, and truly comprehend the importance of empowering women. While there, I was able to observe the genuine benefits of putting women in a position of power. The entrepreneurs that we worked with in Salaga were determined, curious, dedicated and kind. It was particularly rewarding to be able to establish interpersonal connections with such incredible people. The structure that Saha Global creates allows time for both work and opportunity to really get to know people. Mercy, one of the four entrepreneurs from the village of Sabonjida, hosted my team for a delicious afternoon lunch under the largest Mango tree I had ever seen. The meal fostered my appreciation for people, and also facilitated good discussion about the water treatment center.
The Saha Global Leadership Program has changed the way I understand NGO work. Saha Global provides transparent, authentic, thoughtful and effective service work that is sustainable. I am extremely interested in increasing my time in the international community and learning about other cultures and the simple technologies that can assist in solving the worlds water crisis. Saha Global has directly influenced my mindset when it comes to working with people and sharing a common goal. Since being home, I have consistently kept up with Saha’s facebook page to learn about the most recent developments. I hope to return to Sabonjida in the future as well as contribute to Saha Global’s expansion efforts. Serving as a Saha field rep has expanded my leadership skills and all around reinforced my commitment to the mission.
Want to learn more about Claire’s experience or have any specific questions? Claire would be happy to tell you more and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also keep up with Claire is doing now here!
Over the past 7 years, Saha has launched 93 businesses, which empower 191 women entrepreneurs that provide clean water and/or electricity to 40,900 people in Ghana. We have a 100% business success rate in Ghana and now are ready to grow! Over the past year we have been researching potential locations for Saha’s expansion and have narrowed it down to either Peru or Nicaragua. Now, we need your help to get there! All of the funds raised at this year’s Benefit will be used for on the ground research and piloting in Nicaragua or Peru. We are excited about expanding our impact and are so grateful for your support!
Join us for an evening of cocktails, light appetizers, a silent auction, raffle and live music!
After a successful Summer Global Leadership Program, our team here at Saha is playing a bit of catch-up. Although we haven’t been posting our reports in a timely manner, we have been monitoring! So now it’s time to get back on track. Here are our monitoring results from April:
We had many success stories from April. Besides having most of our businesses running smoothly, the most notable successes were in Djelo and Nekpegu. In Deljo, Zeila made big leaps to expand her business. First, she bought cell phone chargers to keep at the center so people who lost their chargers could still come charge their phone. Then she decided to purchase cell phone credit in Tamale to re-sell at her solar center in the village. We are excited for Zeila’s success!
April was also a very exciting month for the business owners in Nekpegu who opened their own bank account! Ramatu and Fatima have saved 300 GHS since opening the solar business in November which is now sitting safely in the bank. Go Ramatu and Fatmia!
We also had some interesting “success” news from some of our water communities. Gbandu, Garizegu, Manguli and Cheshegu all have piped water! We are so excited that these communities are now on the municipal water supply! For now, the entrepreneurs have stalled sales and people are using their safe storage containers to fetch clean water from the new standpipes in town. However, these ladies are still a little hesitant to celebrate. Other communities with piped water have complained that the water gets turned off for days, or sometimes weeks, at a time. So, our business owners are planning to keep their Saha water centers open as a back up source of clean water for the times when the pipes are turned off.
Our biggest challenge in April is that more and more dugout were drying out. The water businesses in Chashagu, Dundo, Gurumanchayili, Kpaliga, Chandanyili, Jagbrin, Kulaa, Chongashe, Kusheni, Gbatini, Jarayili , Tindan, Laligu, and Kpalbusi were all closed at some point throughout the month because they had ran out of water in their dugouts. Rainy season cannot come soon enough!
In addition to dried dugouts, our there were also some issues in Orginal Kabache this month. The water center was closed for a couple of weeks due to conflicts with the neighboring community. Peter did a great job of working with the women entrepreneurs and village leaders in this community to help them understand that despite the issues going on, access to clean water is still very important to people’s health. By the end of the month, the business was back up and running!
We can’t believe that it was just a little over a week ago that we were sitting at the top of Giddipass cheers-ing all your hard work, closing the 2015 Summer Global Leadership Program with an epic dance circle.
YOU DID IT! We are so grateful for your dedication to fundraise, visit doctors, and struggle with visas, sit on a 12+ plane ride followed by an 18 hour bus ride, smush into a taxi for a ~2 hour ride out to your village, work under the sweltering African heat and sun, eat the chicken and rice, jump in the cold showers, and own the layer upon layers of dirt.
Working in some of the most remote villages in the Northern Region is hard work. The work to get these businesses up and running is grueling. Some days you may have asked yourself, “What the heck am I doing here?” But each day you rose to the occasion. Each day you were quickly reminded of the end goal, maybe from watching a child run to the dugout to grab a drink of extremely turbid water, talking to a mother about the effects of kerosene she has seen within her family, or chattin’ with the chief and elders about their community’s options for water or electricity.
Words can hardly express our gratitude. We really enjoyed getting to know each of you. Your passion and drive are infectious. From the moment you arrived in Ghana we were impressed by your energy, go-getter spirits, and ability to learn on the fly. You all were exactly what we needed on our team to reach our goal of 11 new businesses this summer. We are so proud of the work that you were able to accomplish and feel fully confident in the sustainability of the businesses that you implemented during your time in Ghana. Thanks to each of you, approximately 1,320 people now have a permanent source of clean drinking water, 2,240 people have access to solar electricity and 28 women have become business owners.
Welcome to the Saha Family!
Kate, Shak, Peter, Sam, Amin, Kathryn, Wahab & Eric
After an amazing three weeks in Ghana, the Saha US Team and the Summer Field Reps are all a little sad to be back home to our “normal” lives in the States. Luckily, we have a chance to go back and re-live our summer program through this final blog post from Team Sharifa! Our apologies for the delay in this post, but we promise it will be worth the wait!
After opening our solar business in Yakura on Tuesday, we spent the next few days monitoring (checking on lantern usage and answering questions). This morning, the community bid us farewell with an incredible dance ceremony, even allowing us to participate in several of the dances. After this morning, we’re pretty sure the residents of Yakura have learned that Salamingas aren’t as apt at dancing as we are at installing solar panels. We’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone in Yakura and watching our entrepreneurs, Ayi and Hawabu, grow as leaders in the community.
Below, our team members reflect on some of our most memorable experiences in Yakura.
Paul: One brief image from opening night, emblematic of that night as a whole, has stuck with me. A Fulani man showed up about an hour after our 6:30pm opening time. His compound, the most remote in the village, lies more than half a mile from the solar center (I remembered him specifically because of our walk to his residence during lantern distribution). He bought his batteries and left within two minutes. We watched from about 10 feet away as Ayi and Hawabu installed the batteries, took his money, and gave him change. That was it. No ceremony, no outpouring of thanks. Just a simple transaction. At that moment, I thought to myself: this is the point, this is exactly why we’re here. This kind of commerce didn’t exist in Yakura and now it does. We then checked in on this Fulani man’s household this morning during monitoring: he had no questions for us and he reported that he’d been using the lantern for additional cooking and working time at night. His life hasn’t been radically altered: his family remains beset by many of poverty’s harshest challenges. But this family now has a few extra hours of productivity each night without the adverse health effects of using a kerosene lamp. And those few hours matter.
My experiences in Yakura and, more broadly, the Saha business model have taught me something about how best to enable communities to develop. Whether you’re distributing batteries or billion-dollar aid packages, it’s best to empower rather than instruct, to collaborate rather than chastise.
Cassie: The monitoring process these past few days taught me so much in my design thought process. As a future engineer, much of the work I will do will involve products for others. Following up on your product is a really important aspect of the process I had never given too much thought to until now. Working with the women multiple days after opening night to see how sales are going and work through any problems they have encountered was both encouraging to me, to see how well they have taken the business, and to them as they have continued support for the next few years. Ending our time with the the Yakura community with some dancing was the perfect way to conclude such an incredible experience. There was one moment when I was dancing with the women and all of the sudden they all got to the ground dancing so I joined, but they all stood up as I stayed. I’m pretty sure they were making fun of me, but it was all in good fun. I greatly enjoyed learning some of their dancing, a trade off of sorts, for the solar business we shared with them. I look forward to continued success in the women’s solar business and hopefully a dance with them again sometime soon!
Dannie: Leading up to this trip I had learned numerous pieces of information about poverty and the various methods by which people look to aid those in need. However, despite all the knowledge I had accumulated there is, and always will be, vast amounts that I will never know. When I walked into Yakura for the first time, in fact, when I walked into the village of Takpili (our first village visit: part of training in which we monitor a previously established business) for the first time, I was nervous. It’s funny because you wake up every day and you want to change something, make someone’s life better, make the world a better place then you had seen it the day before; but when I walked into these villages everything I had learned became real and the people , although always willing to throw a joke your way and a smile to follow, they are suffering. I didn’t know how to cope with everything and it never fully came together until opening night and today when we left our village for the last time. We watched as people brought their lanterns to the charging center for the first time, it wasn’t as if anything different had happened in the village, and that was the beautiful part. Paul, Cassie, Sharifa (our translator), and I with the help and support from Yakura and our incredible entrepreneurs, successfully implemented a new business that did not change day to day life in the community. This is crucial to the success of the business as well as the consistent monitoring that Saha will continue to do in the future. Today we were able to dance with the community and joke with not a worry in the world about the success of the business in the future. Not only are the women extremely intelligent but Saha will be there every step in the way. If I could tell the girl who walked into Yakura on the first day, nervous if waking up everyday hoping to make a difference was enough, what I know today, I wouldn’t, because I thoroughly enjoyed calling Kate every single day annoying her with questions :)…thank you to everyone who has helped us through donations and support, you were crucial in establishing a solar charging center in Yakura.