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Meet Our Newest Corporate Partner: Phoenix Revolution

Saha Global is thrilled to announced our newest corporate partner: Phoenix Revolution!

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Phoenix Revolution’s mission is to overcome the most challenging problems that face our world today, through engineering economic and environmental solutions. Their Ocean Pure Water System (OPWS) uses modern and proven water desalination processes in an innovative way to reduce power consumption and upfront costs, while maximizing water production. Using desalination and purification techniques based on reverse osmosis (RO), the OPWS does not innovate on the removal of dissolved solids, but on the ability to supply water to the system.

“What was once a multi year, multi billion dollar operation, can now be done in weeks with startup costs starting well under the $100,000 price mark.” Says Casey Glynn, Phoenix Revolution’s Founder and CEO. “Our system is easy, adaptable to being deployed under the sea or on land depending on your specific needs, and can get you started creating fresh, clean, potable drinking water right away. The OPWS is the beginning of ensuring that all people on this planet have quick and easy access to water.”

Saha was first introduced to Casey, last year through Next Step Living. We were immediately impressed with his passion for worldwide water access and his innovative technology. Casey and his team attend the Saha Benefit in the fall, were excited by our plans to expand to Nicaragua and immediately wanted to know how they help.

“[Saha and Phoenix] share the same belief. We are trying to solve the same problems and we feel that together we can make a large difference,” says Casey. “Companies coming together and working together is the only way we can all move forward on this most critical of problems”

Over the next year, Phoenix will be donating funds to help support our expansion and eventually will be contributing their water treatment products for us to test in-country during our Nicaragua pilots. Stay tuned for more exciting updates!

Is your company interested in expanding your impact by supporting Saha’s work? Contact Kate, kate@sahaglobal.org, to learn more!

#AhaSaha Reflections on the 2016 Winter GLP

It’s been just over a week since we said farewell to the 2016 winter Field Reps. Thanks to this group of amazing individuals, Saha was able to launch 11 new businesses, which provide jobs to 16 women (and 1 man). 2,330 people now have permanent access to safe drinking water and 1,728 people have access to reliable, solar electricity. Additionally, 14 of our water entrepreneurs have now been trained to run solar businesses, increasing their earning potential.

Ali, Brandon, Bridget, Ciara, DeLaine, Elaine, Emily, Hailey, Hannah, Hsinyo, Kevin, Michael, Michelle M., Michelle S., Pheobe, Sarah, Sienna, Trevon, Cynthia, Kayleah, Abbey, Alex, Ashley, Briahna, Camila, Cayla, Ellie, Hayley, Jason, Jeremy, Jessica, Karla, Leigh, Lucrece, Nicole, Oxwell, Rana, Sarah, Sean, Signe, Stacey, and Valeria –

We can’t believe that it’s been 10 days since we packed up the bus in Tamale with our fingers crossed for a quick ride down to Accra. We are so grateful that you all choose to donate your time, energy and talents to Saha to help us bring water and electricity to new communities. Thanks to your hard work and dedication, thousands of people’s lives have been changed forever. It has been such a joy to work with each and every one of you. There are hundreds of moments from this winter’s trip that we will never forget: the dance parties on the side of the road in Kumasi, Damba festival, and the insightful conversations we had during debrief and office hours. We are so lucky to have you as members of the Saha Team!

Sincerely,

Kate, Kathryn, Sam, Katie, and Redgie

Team Amin

team eric

Team Jaleel

team Khadijah

Team Nestor Naha

Team Peter

Team Sharifa

Team Simply

Team Sita

Team Shak

Meet the Field Reps: Katie Rumer

Katie Rumer picShortly after graduating from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service with a degree in International Politics, I participated in the Summer 2013 Saha Global Leadership Program. Traveling to Ghana from my home in Philadelphia that summer was enlightening and rewarding in many ways, and my experience with Saha has continued to stay with me through my current work.

During a career fair on campus, I was intrigued by the Saha Global table that Kate Clopeck, Saha’s founder, was manning. When I spoke to her about the program, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to both give back and to participate in hands-on development fieldwork. I was excited about the idea of taking part in the founding of a sustainable small business in a developing economy: something I had studied in the classroom, but had not yet seen in practice.

After my team worked with the female entrepreneurs in our village to open the clean water business, we visited the local school to teach the students about the importance of clean water hygiene. The school was buzzing with kids who were intrigued by our presence, and the excitement was contagious. After teaching our lesson under a tree outside, my team and I visited several classrooms. In one of the older classes, one student asked me to take a photo of him drinking clean water from the blue bucket in his classroom. This is one of my favorite memories from Ghana. At that moment, I felt like my team and I had achieved our goal of getting the people of our village, and especially the younger residents, excited about the importance of drinking only clean water.

One of the biggest takeaways from my experience in this program is the ability to form connections across cultural and language barriers. Even though we communicated with the members of our village through a translator most of the time, I felt like my team and I developed meaningful bonds during the time we spent with the people who live there. The resilience and hard work of the women in our village was also greatly impressed upon me during this program. Women are not only the caregivers in this society, but they also work on their farms and fetch water, all of which are extremely physically demanding tasks. The women who run the water business in our village do so as one of their many daily duties, and their diligence and sense of responsibility to their community was very powerful.

The Saha Gobal Leadership Program also helped to strengthen my desire to work in the international development field. Currently, I work at a large international development bank, where I see development occur at a high level. Having had field experience, I am able to appreciate my work here even more, since I have witnessed the positive results that development and access to resources can have on a micro level.

Today, I continue to stay involved with Saha Global through the alumni group, by following Saha’s evolution into solar businesses, and through tracking the water sales updates from my village when they are published.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions about the Saha Global Leadership Program at katierumer@gmail.com. You can also learn more about me and check in to see what I’m is up to now here!

Voices from the Field: Team Jaleel (Michael, Elaine, Hsinyo and Ciara)

On Wednesday night, our team had our opening night for our solar business. We were so excited to finally get our village’s business up and running after two weeks of building and preparing. When we arrived a couple hours before sunset, we had a few glitches to work out and quickly dealt with the issues with our entrepreneurs Mazara and Adam. Once all 69 batteries were charged we were ready to officially begin. So many people from the village came out and gathered around to receive their batteries and charge their phones.

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It was during opening night that we truly realized the impact of our work. The loud cheering of the children as their mom switched one setting of brightness after another brought only more excitement. Walking around the village, we saw how much the new lanterns we provided really improved their lives. Those using their old lanterns and flashlights did not shine as bright as the ones we have provided. It was also less convenient to use as it usually required another person to hold the light.

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As more people came to rent batteries, one by one, each compound became lit and vibrant. Sounds from afar in the serene village night were the women pounding fufu and the cracking sound from the fires in the lighted compound. Even though we had a rough start, the overall opening night was very successful. Our team was able to work with our entrepreneurs and quickly fix the problem. As a result, 18 people came out of 23 compounds and 5 people got their phones charged. Our team is so happy to have been able to bring this important resource to the village.

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Voices from the Field – Team Sita, Valerie, Sean, Haley & Bri

They may have left Ghana, but we’ve got one last update from a Saha team written on their (first) last day in their community. Take it away Team Sita:

As we were sitting on the thin wooden bench in the middle of our village, we began to reflect. We had sat on that thin, wooden bench two weeks earlier when we were asking permission from the chief elders, and community to implement a water treatment center. However, this time we were sitting on that bench to say goodbye to Kombonaayili and thank them for all of their help. There was no doubt in our minds that the past three weeks have been an adventure and some of the best we’ve ever had and with those three weeks came a lot of firsts for each of us.

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Sean
This trip was my first experience in Africa. I have never ever been across the Atlantic before- a useful fact for those Never Have I Evers. I was not sure what to expect in the “city” I would be staying in or the village I would be working in- I didn’t even know if they used bathrooms, for example, and if so, what kind. Through my weeks, the thing that struck me most were not the differences between what I felt would be a strange planet and the U.S., but the similarities. The city doesn’t have the sky scrapers I’m more familiar with, but it bustles all the same. The people I encountered loved to tell jokes and laugh with me about them. It was a way of welcoming me that surpassed any greeting. The children love to play with us, completely ignoring the fact that we are bizarre-looking strangers. After three weeks here the differences are hardly noticeable. I’ve been welcomed by so many people, both directly and indirectly, that this place has started to feel like a home away from home. I am sad to see it go- Komonaayili, Tamale, Ghana, and Africa in general.

Haley
This trip was my first time using a bathroom that essentially was a separated “room” and a cement floor with a small hole in this wall to drain everything to the outside. At first it was somewhat scary, but after 2 weeks of using the restroom around 10 am every day, it became part of my daily routine. You only really get to know a village if you use their bathroom.

Haley

Bri
I can honestly say that this trip was the first time I have ever made a baby cry just by looking at it. .I wish I was exaggerating. Some of the children in our village have never seen “salameenses” (It means white people, but is used to describe all light-skinned foreigners) before or even heard of one for that matter so we must seem like aliens to them. I remember walking into one household and seeing a bay about two years old screaming and running away from me. Unfortunately, he ran into the house I was about to go into so the screaming continued. While I was in the house one of the women picked up the small boy and shoved him in my face as to say “see they aren’t that scary” but it just made him scream louder and squirm until the woman let him go. For the remainder of the time he sat on another woman’s lap with a shawl over his face to keep him from seeing us and to silence his screams. This is of course just one instance out of many, but it is definitely one I’ll never forget and one that I can hopefully look back and laugh at.

Bri

Valerie
I never ever in my 22 years of life imagined that I would be betrothed so early. I was one of the fortunate ones that had been chosen by one of the village chiefs to be a second or even third wife (polygamy is a normal practice in Northern Ghana). This was obviously just said in jest, and no rings were ever exchanged. No, mom, there is no reason to alert the U.S. Embassy. I am indeed coming back home, promise! But it was not uncommon to hear a man ask Sean, my teammate, if he could have one of “his” women. Sean would very graciously decline and try to explain that we belonged only to ourselves. But after two days, he was practically giving us away for free.
Now, this may make the villagers seem as if they treat the women as a commodity, however that was not the case. All of the women we met were powerful and outspoken. It was almost surprising to me at first. They could carry babies on their backs and a bucket of water on their heads, as they carried other items in their hand. They did not seem to hold back on their thoughts, even when there were men around. And even today, as we sat on that wooden bench, when we were trying to make sure to reiterate the importance of the women in the village and their role in the treatment center, we were received with only reassuring agreement. It was one of the top moments in that village, probably next to getting “engaged” numerous times.

Val

Overall, no matter what our firsts have been, they have only served to open our eyes, our minds, and our hearts. So if you ever decide to apply as a field rep, be prepared to have many interesting firsts!

Distribution

Voices from Field: Team Simply, Rana, Alex & Lucrece

Our opening day experience at Chihigu Village was truly wonderful.

We were first worried because no one was present at the water center when we arrived, but within minutes we saw a line of purple buckets moving toward us; Those were the Fulanis! Shortly after, the Chihigu community flooded as well, and within minutes the treatment center was surrounded by about 50 women and children. They were all eager to purchase their clean water so we had to move quickly. We set up a cleaning station to clean the Safe Storage Containers (purple buckets), and a check-up station where we would fix leaking taps. The women quickly took over the cleaning station, as they were more efficient than us at that task.

Opening day in Chihigu
Opening day in Chihigu

Over the course of opening day, we sold to every household with the exception of a few families that were out of town. Some families were so enthusiastic about drinking the treated water that they purchased additional containers for their households. Towards the end, we had sold so much that we ran out of clean water, and we had to treat more water immediately for the remaining women. We were glad to see that women were willing to wait while we were helping the entrepreneurs treat more water. Our translator Simply and our driver Cartier were extremely skilled and helpful, and supported us in most tasks.

The first sales are clean and clear!
The first sales are clean and clear!

 

 

The entire team felt so humbled to see the women happily walk back in the direction of their households carrying their purple buckets on their heads and that opening day was such a success. We even got to enjoy some games of football with the village children in-between sales! Team Simply is looking forward to visiting with each household during monitoring over the next few days and speaking with the family members and seeing how they are using Saha Global’s treated water in their homes and hearing all their feedback!

 

  • Alex, Rana, Simply and Lucrece

Voice from the Field: Team TJ – Jeremy, Ellie, Jessica and Leigh

Dear Diary,

Today began with uncertainty… Last night we lay restless with the thought that our Poltyank water could be contaminated. On the ride to Futa today, we anxiously waited for Kathryn’s call to disclose the water tests. To our relief, the water was clean! Although we were one man down (feel better Jess!) we were so excited that opening day had finally arrived!!! We got to Futa and quickly realized the key to the Polytank was with our fallen team mate back at the guesthouse. Yet there was a solution: our translator TJ, a rock, and a screwdriver after much effort cracked it.

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There was a buzz in Futa upon our arrival. Several women had sent their children ahead to queue up for the opening. Our three entrepreneurs, Fati, Mariama, and Sanatu, met us at the treatment center, ready to make their first sales. Quickly a line formed and it seemed all of Futa’s women were ready to claim their clean water with their safe storage containers in hand. We eagerly jotted down ever family that came to the center, remembering their households during the container distribution days.

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Many women tried the water firsthand and loved the taste, comparing it to sachet water locally found in town. The transformation from mucky dugout water to clear, safe drinking water was amazing. In order to celebrate the success of the center and the water’s outcome, many laughs were had and there was even a dance off between Jeremy and Fati (Fati clearly won). Out of the 32 households, 27 were present at the center. Fati, Mariama, and Sanatu did a wonderful job running their business and were beyond thrilled to be providing their community with clean drinking water.

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To finish off the day, a few egg and bread sandwiches were in order to commemorate the business’ opening. Now for some Fanmilk and much needed naps! More to come, stay tuned…

Love,

Team TJ, aka Team Eggs and Bread

Voices from the Field: Team Khadijah – Phoebe, Hannah, Kevin and Kayleah

Over the course of the of the past week and a half our team has been working in the village of Vogu-Gundaa which is about an hour’s drive outside the city of Tamale. Saha Global implemented a clean water system in this community 2 ½ years ago and now we are working to install a solar center to provide the community with clean electricity. During our meetings with the chief and the community we learned that they are currently using kerosene lamps and lead acid batteries to power flashlights for lighting. They have experienced the harmful effects of these products but do not have other options to have light in their homes. Our goal is to install a solar center that can charge reusable batteries for lanterns as well as charge cell phones and other small appliances.

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Installing the solar panels in Vogu-Gundaa

These past few days we have been working to construct the physical structure that will house the solar center. Yesterday we worked with the community to set up the solar panels. We also started to train the women who will be running the business. We are very lucky to have 4 women that currently run the water business in the village and who will also run the solar business. Miriam, Abebeta, Awaab, and Fati have all been very excited about learning how the system works and getting started with the solar business. The typical Saha business only has 2 women running it but we have found that with 4 women there is a lot of energy for this project and they are wonderful at working together. We are very proud of how well they are doing and excited for them to run this business!

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Phoebe, Kevin and Khadijah instructing the Miriam, Abebeta, Awaab and Fati how to hook up the solar panels

The next step of training was putting the system together. Today we disconnected everything and they put it back together independently so they knew how everything works. We have been talking them through the processes and it was so great to see their excitement when they flipped the switches and the lights came on showing that the batteries and phones were charging. This is great progress for this community and it was awesome to see how happy they are about this potential.

Now that we have installed the solar system itself and begun training the women, our next steps are finishing their financial training and beginning distribution of the lanterns to the community. We have 43 households in our community and each will have the chance to purchase lanterns for a very reduced price so every household can afford it. Everyone we have talked to is very excited about the prospect of having lanterns in their households to provide light for cooking, studying and nightly chores. They are also very excited to charge their cell phones in their own community rather than traveling to town to do so. We have had a great time working with the women and the community, and are very excited to see this business prosper for the social and economic benefit of all members of Vogu-Gundaa.

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Team Khadijah (Hannah, Kayleah, Kevin & Phoebe)

Voices from the Field: Oxwell, Karla, Peter, Camila & Ashley

This dream team consists of five — Karla, Ashley, Oxwell, Camila, and our translator/guide, Peter. We are implementing Saha’s water treatment center in Galikpegu, a well-established village of roughly 80 households. We began by setting up our water treatment center and teaching Mariama and Lydia — two extremely competent entrepreneurs-to-be — how to begin filtering the dugout water by first adding  aluminum sulfate. Then on Thursday, January 7th, we began distributing safe storage containers (SSC) (before any other team!). That day, we provided 14 households with SSCs and a brief education proper SSCs usage and on the health implications of contaminated water. Our efficiency was largely thanks to our translator, Peter, and the bunch of kids who helped us carry the SSCs!  It was also really awesome to hear Lidia and Mariama’s thoughts about the clean water business.  They were excited to be implementing the Saha’s water filtration process in their village and wished to know what our thoughts were on how best they could make the business successful and sustainable.  Another highlight of the day occurred during distribution when we visited the household of a women who already knew  about Saha Global’s clean water businesses .  In her mother’s village she had seen the safe storage containers before and had drank the filtered water in her mother’s home. There fore she was really excited to know that she could now have her own safe storage container that she could use to provide safe and healthy  drinking  water for her family!

The current drinking water source in Galinkpegu. Tests came back positive for total coliform and E.coli
The current drinking water source in Galinkpegu. Tests came back positive for total coliform and E.coli

 

Team Peter recruits some helping hands
Team Peter recruits some helping hands during distribution

We continued distributing SSCs on Friday, the 8th, after meeting with our business women to continue chlorine training. This time, we disseminated 33 SSCs, each along with a brief explanation of proper usage and of water health, to an extremely receptive and grateful community. A very enjoyable and insightful part of the safe storage container distribution process is listening to  the questions the villagers have about everything. Their concerns such as what should  they do when they want clean drinking water while working on the farm or when can they purchase more safe storage containers from Saha so that all of their family have access to clean water really demonstrated how passionate and strongly they feel about bettering their health and that of family’s members. During distribution,  when we asked the members of the households if they would be using the water treatment center often,  pretty much all of them replied that they would use it all of the time.  They said that they are aware that the dugout water is bad,  but in the past they didn’t have any other option.  We hope to finish distribution on Saturday to allow for a couple of days of fun with the children of Galikpegu before opening day on Tuesday, January 12th. We remain extremely grateful for the opportunity to provide safe potable water and to work with such incredible, beautiful, and humble people.

The dream team during alum training
The dream team during alum training
  • Karla, Oxwell, Ashley, Camilla and Peter

 

Voices from the Field: Team Sharifa

“Despa! Despa!” The children shouted, running after our car as we drove up. Today was our sixth day working in Sagbarigu; we finished construction of the solar charging center, held our community meeting, and installed the solar panels.

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The community we’re working in is very small, located about an hour outside of Tamale. They already have a Saha water business, and the owner, Sanatu, has been taking good care of things for the past year and a half.

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The initial chief meeting went well, so we started building on Monday. Most of the women in the community were traveling for the first few days, so we didn’t have a chance to meet with the whole community until today.

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We started off by going over the details of the business model, making sure to emphasize that the entrepreneurs are the owners, not Saha Global. Then we passed around a lantern and showed them its functionality, explaining the procedure for renting batteries and charging cell phones at the center. They had mentioned getting a television yesterday, so we mentioned that the charging center is expressly not for large electronics.

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Near the end of the meeting, we opened the floor for questions. They asked how much everything would cost, whether they could buy extra lanterns, and when opening night would be. We told them that prices were up to the women running the business, but that they could buy extra lanterns from them later on if they needed to, and that we are scheduled to open next Wednesday!

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-Sarah, Sienna, Ali, Michelle and Sharifa