Field Rep Voices: Team Diana, Bill, Kelsea, Lucy, and Sita

Starting a safe drinking water treatment center in Kanjeyili has been a community effort through and through. Kanjeyili’s community elected women entrepreneurs Aisha, Aishatu, Awau and Mayama are eagerly learning and getting involved in every aspect of the center from water treatment to managing the business. They are supported by other community members who help in whatever way they can and enthusiastically take ownership of the benefits of the center for their village. Kanjeyili’s successful treatment center depends on both the entrepreneurs and the community’s support and understanding of the business.

Kanjeyili’s women entrepreneurs quickly took the reins of the treatment process. We demonstrated how to use the alum to clear sediment from the water and they took a hands-on approach to trying the process themselves. By day two of training, they didn’t hesitate to fill the blue drums with dugout water and started treating it with alum right away. Alum treatment is an overnight process and they understand how important it is to the business to have water ready to treat and serve. Again, the community came out to support this process by carrying the heavy drums of water and helping form a six-month supply of alum balls. Having completed the first step of the process, the entrepreneurs moved on to disinfection.

Having successfully cleared the first batch of water with alum, the women entrepreneurs began scooping the water into the Polytank.* The Polytank disinfection step is the last in ensuring all E.Coli is removed from the water and is safe to drink. The community knew their dugout was making them sick, but showing them the results of the lab tests drove home the importance of the safe water center. The women entrepreneur’s primary responsibility is to continue the operation of the treatment center. Although they were apprehensive about charging a small fee for the water, both entrepreneurs and community came to understand the fee ensured the longevity of the safe water center. The women entrepreneurs keep in mind the price of filling a household’s safe storage container must be affordable for the entire village. This way, the entrepreneurs can provide an important service for the community, and in turn, the community drives the profitability and continuity of the business.

Kanjeyili’s safe water treatment center will continue to be successful because the community both needs and supports its service. Their entrepreneurs are highly competent and efficient at both water treatment and management because they dove into all aspects of the process. The community is helping with every step along the way, whether lending a hand to paint or carrying water to treat. This shared sense of ownership puts Kanjeyili on the road to better health and the success of their water treatment center.

*Polytank: Large drum with a tap commonly found in Ghana to store drinking water.

Kanjeyili kids help carry the polytank.
Kanjeyili kids help carry the polytank.
Lucy helps train their entrepreneurs about alum, the first step of the water treatment process.
Lucy helps train their entrepreneurs about alum, the first step of the water treatment process.
One of the new entrepreneurs from Kanjeyili fills a blue drum to get ready for alum treatment.
One of the new entrepreneurs from Kanjeyili fills a blue drum to get ready for alum treatment.

Field Rep Voices: Team Rachael, Davis, Jaleel, Morgan and Vivian

Attempting to fix a broken down car in the middle of a dirt road miles into the African bush was not the ideal start to the first day traveling to the community that team Jaleel would be working in; but for the team it was not at all surprising. Both before the program and during orientation we were told that whatever can go wrong will and that statement has definitely been true. In our case that would mostly entail car troubles.  These troubles have ranged from the random necessary push start to having a fan belt gear literally fall out of the car. These car issues may sound bad but they have helped the team bond and realize how ridiculous some of the situations which have been encountered are.  In these situations all we have been able to do is laugh about it and know that what we need to accomplish that day will still get done.

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In the case of the car breaking down on the way to visit the community of Warivi for the first time everything turned out for the best and into one of the team’s, Davis, Morgan, Rachael, and Vivian, most memorable life experiences.

Team Jaleel poses on top of Giddipass for their scavenger hunt
Team Jaleel poses on top of Giddipass for their scavenger hunt


We were given the amazing opportunity to meet with the village chief and a few of the elders to explain that we would like to work in their village for the next few weeks to help implement a sustainable solar charging business. The reactions and gratitude that were exhibited by the chief, elders, and community really left a lasting impact on all of the members of the team. The days following the meeting have been amazing, both in seeing how the community functions in daily routines and in how they have rallied together to help implement the solar center.

Davis, Morgan pose with their carpenter!
Davis, Morgan pose with their carpenter!

In the case of the car breaking down on the way to visit the community of Warivi for the first time everything turned out for the best and into one of the team’s, Davis, Morgan, Rachael, and Vivian, most memorable life experiences.

–  Davis, Jaleel, Morgan, Rachael and Vivian

Field Rep Voices – Team Greg, Wivine, Abby, Jen and Dzorsah

After a long, dusty taxi ride, we finally arrived in Changbuni, eager to establish a relationship with the community we would be working in. When we pulled up, many of the kids were already gathered, and even more came running when they heard news of our arrival. We introduced ourselves to one of the adults, who then, to our surprise, eagerly ran to get the chief from farming.

We (somewhat nervously) entered the chief’s hut, and went through the formal Dagbani greetings. This was the true test of how much we’d learned from Shak’s Dagbani training session a few days prior. We definitely stumbled over a few phrases, but the chief and elders seemed to appreciate our efforts nonetheless. Jen began explaining the Saha mission and the specifics of the clean water business we wanted to start. After the pitch, the chief said something that made us all realize what’s really special about Saha. He said that when we first arrived he thought we might be drilling a borehole or something mechanical, which has the potential to break. He said that he was grateful that this project fit the needs and wants of his community. Earlier, upon entering the village, we noticed a structure and tank for rainwater harvesting put in place by another NGO. When we asked the villagers about it, they said they had used it in the past, but it was currently empty. This made us realize that sometimes a simple approach is best. Rather than trying to replace their dugout with another water source, we hoped to give the community of Changbuni the tools and opportunity to be self-sufficient with the resources that they already have.


After the chief meeting we asked to see the dugout to take a water sample. Even in a taxi, it was a rather long distance. We took our sample and scouted a potential location for the center next to the dugout. Next, we went to see the river that the village uses in the dry season, when their dugout runs dry. We were warned with a chuckle that it was far away, but none of us were prepared for how far away it actually was. After driving the taxi for as far as the path would allow, we still had another thirty minute walk to the river.


Luckily it was a scenic walk

We took our water sample and started the long walk back to the taxi. It was humbling to experience even just a small fraction of the work women do on a daily basis to provide for their families, and frustrating to realize that the outcome of their efforts was still unclean water that made them sick. This experience added perspective and motivation to the work that we would soon be doing.


Samples in tow, we were set to leave Changbuni after a successful first day. First, though, we went to say goodbye to the chief. We told him our plan for the next day and began our goodbyes. Then the chief said something to a younger boy, who then left the hut. To our surprise and bewilderment, he came back carrying a live chicken. The chief wanted to give us the chicken as a token of the community’s gratitude. We were a bit shocked, but grateful, and thanked him for the gift.


We left Changbuni (with the chicken in the trunk with our translator!), satisfied with how our first day went and excited to come back!


Field Rep Voices – Team Sam, Christina, Julia, Beth and Sumaya

Yesterday, we completed construction of our water business in the village of Sankunpe. Construction involved the heating of screws over a fire started with leftover paint thinner, the chaining of blue drums to discourage theft, and some polytank plumbing work. To prepare the polytank to hold the water, Julia jumped inside the tank with a sponge and shea butter soap from the market and got the job done!

Once construction was finished, we commenced training the women entrepreneurs. We focused on alum training which is the first of the two steps in the purification process. Aluminum sulfate is a flocculent used to separate the sediment from the dugout water. In its usual state, dugout water resembles chocolate milk due to its high turbidity. The women were already familiar alum and took the alum balls from us and confidently stirred them in the blue drums.


This morning we arrived in Sankunpe expecting to find three blue drums of clear dugout water with the sediment settled at the bottom. Much to our surprise, the water was still full of sediment. We did not account for how the turbidity of the water is higher at this time of the year. As the dry season comes to an end, the water levels of the dugout are low causing the high turbidity.


We re-treated the water with our women entrepreneurs, explaining what had gone wrong, and waited another 30 minutes to confirm that the treatment worked. Tomorrow we will transfer the fully-flocculated water to the polytank to be treated with chlorine. Fingers crossed that we will be sipping potable water very soon!


Also, in other news… Sam fell madly in love with a goat named Regina.


Field Rep Voices – Team: Taylor, Audrey, Anna, Micah and Taufik

Sitting in the middle of Bayili’s humble palace, Team Taufik had agreeably one of the most unique experiences of our lives. It was our meeting with the chief and the elders of the community we were hoping to work with over the next couple weeks. After taking our shoes off, we stepped into his hut and squatted down and began the greetings. The elder we came into contact with first upon our arrival to the village, offered up the 5 cedes we had given out of respect. The chief nodded to us and began speaking in Dagbani. Unaware of exactly what was happening, but eager to be a part of the process, we mimicked the men and our translator by lightly clapping our hands and responding “Naa” to all their well wishes to our lives and our families.

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Our team member, Audrey, gave our pitch confidently and eloquently and our translator, Taufik, bridged the language gap. They nodded approval throughout the meeting and were happy to move forward with the water sanitation business implementation. Yay! The next day we got to meet with the entire community and they also loved the idea. We are so excited and thankful for the opportunity to work with our village! Here are some other things that we have been very thankful for throughout our experience…


We are thankful to have an inside look at what an official chief meeting looks like.

We are thankful that our village has welcomed us into their traditions.

We are thankful for Taufik both for his service to this organization and his willingness to teach us the ways of Tamale.

We are thankful for simple solutions and the impact they can have on people’s lives.

We are thankful for our driver, Alhassan, because he not only drives us everywhere but also fixes everything. Literally everything.

We are thankful for the village’s excitement to help us implement this business.

We are thankful for cute kids and their curious, unashamed staring.

We are thankful for laughter because no matter what language you speak, everyone understands it.


5th Annual Benefit Success

A Welcome Note from Saha’s Co-founder & Board Member, Vanessa Green

Last Thursday marked our 5th Annual Benefit in Boston at the W Hotel! It was a great success and we were able to raise just shy of $20,000. The evening would have not been possible without the help of our sponsors Wolf Greenfield (gold sponsor), Dwell Proper (silver sponsor) and Oasys Water. Thank you all for your continued support. Another big thank you all of our attendees and volunteers for coming together for such a memorable evening.

With your help we will be able to continue to expand our impact in Ghana to bring clean drinking water to more people and job opportunities to more women. Your donations truly have a direct impact on so many lives in our partner communities and we are so grateful for your support.

What better way to recap the evening with some pictures? (See below). You can view more from our awesome photobooth here.

If you were unable to make the evening but are still looking to show your support please donate here. You can even set up monthly recurring donations so you can support our villages in Ghana throughout the year!

Photo Booth
Thank you to all of our silent auction donors!


Benefit Volunteer Mike Kearney gets his raffle tickets in!


Field Rep Voices: Team Wahab, Ryan, Kristen, Kevonté & Rachael

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.

Team Wahab meets with elders from the community of Yepala to discuss a solar charging center!
Team Wahab meets with elders from the community of Yepala to discuss a solar charging center!

Orientation Down, Next Step Implementation!

Akwaaba from Tamale! We are excited to have all of our Field Reps here for orientation before heading out to their own villages. The first few days have been spent learning Ghana history, Dagbani training (the predominant language spoken in the area around Tamale), and Saha’s approach to both the water treatment and solar electricity processes. Teams and translators were announced on the first day and their first activity together was spent running around town on a scavenger hunt. Congratulations to Team Simply for getting the most points!




Next, our teams spent the morning at a village that was previously implemented in for water or solar. It was a great opportunity to see how the businesses run and the challenges and successes that different communities face throughout operation. In Wovugu, our Field Reps learned that the women entrepreneurs had issues getting people to buy water for a short period of time. They were able to solve the problem with the elders of the village to educate people about the need to always drink clean and safe drinking water! Everyone had a great time asking the women questions and playing with the kids!

group pic

dugout water


If you don’t already, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@sahaglobal) to check out pictures of the Field Reps in action. More to come soon!