And now, we hand it over to the Field Reps! In the next series of blog posts, water and solar teams will discuss their work from their perspective. Take it away Team Wahab….
Day 1 In Yepala
Ti Puhiriyah, we are so happy to greet you!!! We five will be working together on this Solar Electricity project in Tamale, Ghana (third largest city in Ghana) for the rural village community of Yepala in East Gonja District in the Northern Region of Ghana. We are staying in GILLBT Hostel near Tamale and our drive from campus to Yepala is about 30 minutes with smooth roads. We take turns sleeping in the trunk. “OH NO, no one gets to have the trunk everyday,” half-jokes Kristen. Our next teammate is Tomas, or Kobe for his cool friends, who is the taxi driver, in the smooth station wagon.
The mornings are cool and cloudy, we wake early in the day before 06:00 AM breakfast and leave for Yepala at 06:30 AM. The first day we went to Yepala was 7 June 2016, the drive there we saw wide open fields with plenty of lush green vegetation and red brown dirt on the roads and the sides. As we pull into Yepala, a man is chilling on a bench in a black traditional shirt with white traditional religious hat, greeting us with good morning in Dagbani, Desibah with we returned with: well, Nnaa. We got out of the taxi and Wahab told the man who we are, Saha Global Field Representatives who are looking for the Chief, Na. We want to schedule meeting with Na. We learned that this man in black shirt was the Chairman of the Yepala Community, literally right-hand man of the Na. He says that Na has gone to the farm to handle some business. We will schedule meeting with Council of Elders, because anything that they decide, Na will go agree with because they work together and he is one part of many. We go to speak with the Elders about wuntan buhum (solar electricity) and they say Thank you, we were not expecting you or this opportunity today, and of course they want to add wantan buhum to their community because it is a good thing. We ask them if they use any electricity at night, and they say that a few people have some small lanterns that they use disposable, lead-acid batteries in — Tigerwatt and Sun, locally retailed Chinese brands.
When we met the Elders they were standing around a young goat, who was suspended in the grip of two men, upside down. A veterinarian was standing, administering some white liquid in a syringe to his mouth, then a different brown syringe to his butt, then checked his vitals and let him go on his way. The vet was dressed in more Western-type clothes, so we knew that he and his assistant were from outside of the community.
We returned to the spot where we left Kobe at the taxi where we met the Chairman, with the Elders this time. We shared some Cola Nuts, for a ritual sign of respect in the tradition. Each person is to take a small bite to seal the deal, sign the ending.The Cola Nut tasted a bit bitter and the taste stayed in my mouth for about 20 minutes throughout the ride home. They did not take the Cola immediately because of respect to Ramadan, Islamic month of fasting for Allah has just started, yet they expressed much gratitude at our coming and sharing. We agreed to meet at the same time tomorrow, around 7AM.