Every month Saha’s Manager Eric sits down with one of our entrepreneurs to ask her about her work and life beyond Saha.
Samata was born in Wa in the Upper West Region. She later went with her father to live in Techiman. She was raised by her father in Techiman until she got married and moved to Gurumanchayili. Samatha has three children, one girl and two boys.
Samata mentioned that people used to complain about stomach cramps before, but that has minimized now that they have clean water to drink. “I am happy to working as the entrepreneur at the water treatment center. I am happy to be able to provide safe, clean drinking water for my community.”
In addition to running the water treatment center, Samata also picks shea nuts. She then makes into shea butter and sells it in the market.
Despa!! I’m currently sitting in the Saha office on a rainy Monday morning. Most days we’d be out monitoring right now, but the downpour is keeping us inside. We gave it our best shot, heading out at 6:30am only to make it to the other side of Tamale before we were soaked through. It doesn’t help much to put a rain jacket on after the rains begin, and motos don’t offer any rain protection, so back to the office Wahab and I drove! Tomorrow we will try again!
The few weeks since the Global Leadership Program ended have been an adventure. Thus far, I’ve gone monitoring with Eric, Shak, and am now starting to monitor with Wahab. Katie and I are spending a week with each full time staff to really understand how things run around here.
Eric monitors Vogyili, the community I implemented a water business in as a field rep. It was fun to monitor and see how well they were doing, especially considering they now have a solar business too. Eric also monitors five of the nine new water businesses from this summer’s GLP. All five (Kanjeyili, Baayili, Dawunyili, Mahamuyili, and Kpingiyili) are doing well!
A few surprises occurred when Shak and I visited Yakura. The first of which was the small lake that greeted us on the road into the village. We weren’t sure we could make it through on the moto, but a man passing by on a bicycle assured us it wasn’t that deep. However, he was taking a back route that wasn’t moto friendly to avoid the puddle, so we were on our own. I decided to let Shak ride alone, and I would walk though the puddle rather than risk a swim were the moto to tip. Thankfully, the man was right and we made it through without (many) problems, but I am glad I walked!
In Yakura I also saw Mary, one of the women entrepreneurs from my time in Vogyili. We were walking into our first household to monitor and there she was!
I knew that she had moved to another community, but I was so surprised and excited to see her! She’s now helping run the water and solar businesses in Yakura. Mary was equally as surprised to see me, and asked how Victoria, Jacob, and Hailey were (my 2013 GLP teammates). It was a touching reminder of the lasting impact field reps and Saha truly have on each community and its entrepreneurs.
And now, an update on living in Tamale and a shameless plug for our food blog! Katie and I have started an Instagram account – tamaleeats – to document our adventures cooking and eating here in Tamale (even though we have zero experience with food photography). It’s a whole new world learning what goods we can actually cook from the market, and trying to operate our oven. It’s a great day if it only takes one match to light the stove!
Nevertheless, I think we’ve done a splendid job so far: we haven’t eaten plain rice for any meal and we discovered donuts in the market can be a good (albeit not nutritious) lunch substitute when it’s too hot to turn on the stove. Head over to tamaleeats to see homemade falafel, mujadara, chili, and more!
Two leadership programs down and two weeks of monitoring under the belt – wow, life in Tamale is different when there aren’t 60 salamingas running around town. As I settle into this new lifestyle, I am starting to reflect on the differences of being a Field Rep and working as a staff member in Ghana.
As a field rep, my mind was set on the end goal of beginning a water treatment business in Sagbarigu. There were definitely problems along the way, but we were able to find quick and easy solutions to each problem we faced. We left in June 2014 confident that the skill sets we gave the women entrepreneurs were enough to keep the business running.
Now I am back two years later as a full-time staff member. Yes, Sagbarigu’s water treatment business is still running well. But, I have already learned in my short time here that there are many gray areas to the success of these businesses. It’s not just about the incredible team that implemented these businesses. It’s also about the incredible staff members that work hard to monitor in these communities. Every day, we visit 3 communities to check on the center, sales, successes and challenges of the water and solar businesses. I am learning quickly that each business has its unique challenges that I could not have imagined as a field rep. As I sit in the solar center of Chandanyili with Wahab and the 4 women entrepreneurs talking about money management, I can see a concrete difference in the way I solved problems as a field rep and the way I solve problems now.
Instead of wondering, what can be done right now to solve this problem, I ask myself: What is better for the sustainability of this project? Should we use the easy solution to get the center back up and running now? Or talk with the women, encourage them to hold a community meeting, and let us know their final decision on sales? Do we lead these business owners towards the answer we want to hear or do we let them find solutions to their problems that best fit their community? Will their answer end up being the same as ours?
I may not know the answers to all of these questions now, as they are sure to be different with each unique situation, but I have learned so much already from Eric, Wahab, Amin, Peter and Shak. Eda and I continue to be thankful for their patience, willingness to answer any [silly] question, and the constant laughter (usually relating to our most recent marriage proposals). We’re excited to see what this year has in store for us!
We are happy to report that, once again, 80% of our households had clean water in their safe storage containers. We are very excited about this number and look forward to seeing it increase further! This month, there were a number of communities with high water sales. These villages include: Nekpegu, Chihigu, Vogyili, Kagbal, Balomposo, Wambong, Galinkpegu, Kideng, Gidanturu, Futa and Komonaayili. We are especially impressed with Chihigu, Galinkpegu, Futa, and Kombonaayili because they were recently implemented this past winter. Two of our solar communitites, Chandanyili and Wambong, had high solar sales this month. Although they don’t currently have bank accounts, Sagbarigu, Chadanyili, Kpalguni, Gundaa, Namdu I and Namdu II plan on opening bank accounts very soon!
Although some communities have received rain, the following communities still have very low dugouts: Djelo, Buhijaa Tindan I, and Chandanyili. When the dugouts fill back up, women entrepreneurs are encouraged to inform their community that their centers are regularly running again. This month, Namdu II, Kuldanali, Manguli II, and Djelo had polytank issued that were fixed by our full time staff. Most polytank issues are leaks from the tap, which can be fixed with new parts or just glue and tape! Additionally, Gundaa’s solar center had a leak in the roof that had to be immediately fixed and Jangbarigiyili experienced loose wires after a storm that were fixed with the help of our full time staff. Sagbarigu informed Wahab that they were not given any spare batteries after implementation of their solar business. Businesses are given 10% extra batteries for their solar centers to use as others are charging. Wahab plans to bring these to the women entrepreneurs as soon as possible.
Gidanturu, Yepalsi, Naha, Moya, Kpalguni II, Yepala, Sakpalua, Namdu II, Warvi, Galinkpegu, Kpachiyili, Tunga, Tohinaayili, Bamvim, Balomposo, and Chani all had high sales at their water businesses during April. Polytank taps were fixed in Kasulyili, Changyili and Kideng, so the centers are now up and running!
Eighty-two percent of households had clean water in their safe storage containers this month, which we’re quite proud of given how dry this time of year is.
Chandanyili had high sales at their solar business, and with some saving the entrepreneurs will be set to buy new batteries once the old ones wear.
The biggest challenge in April is dry dugouts. Many communities have to travel further to get water during this month, so encouraging the entrepreneurs to keep the water centers going is important!
Kasuyili’s water center closed this month, but Wahab sat with the chief and elders and discussed the problems. It was agreed that changing the women running the center would help get the business working again. Wahab will be checking on them in the following weeks.
Hello everyone! My name is Lilly Prince. I am 26 years old, originally from Orlando, Florida, but now I currently living in Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating from University of South Carolina with a BA in Public Health, I journeyed to Ghana with Saha Global in the summer of 2013. I was a part of the first team to implement water businesses in the Salaga area. My team worked with the lovely people of Kideng village!
I was inspired when I discovered Saha Global and researched their mission and model. As an aspiring public health professional, I quickly took the opportunity to work in the field on a health problem I’m passionate about, to experience NGO program implementation first hand, and to immerse myself in a different culture. Saha Global is a sustainable, economically sound organization that is simply a facilitator in rural Ghana’s goal toward healthier communities. Learning more about the global water crisis through the daily lives of Ghanaians in low resource settings helped me become a better, more understanding public health professional.
My favorite memory while in Ghana was when our team held a big community meeting right in the middle of Kideng village. Almost all community members were present: children, mothers, teens, but most impactful to me were all the elders—men and women—sitting in the innermost circle. They listened intently as we made our water business pitch. (Yes, you have to convince your village that implementation will be beneficial to them!) The people of Kideng were enthusiastic and genuinely interested in what we had to say. This was so memorable for me because I know that this eagerness does not always happen; and our team was lucky to be working with a village that sincerely wanted to make a change to improve their overall health.
Although I graduated with a major in Public Health, Saha Global really opened my eyes to the urgency of health on a global scale. Participating in the Global Leadership Program allowed me to face and overcome many challenges that are common in global health work. I was able to take what I had learned in the classroom, and practiced those skills in a real-world setting. It was because of Saha Global that I decided to continue my education and pursue my Master’s of Public Health. Now, I graduated in May from Boston University School of Public Health with my MPH! (And looking for employment!)
I am very passionate about the impact Saha Global has on the people of rural Ghana and the impact on the Field Reps who implement. I would love to talk with anyone who is interested in becoming a Global Field Rep, already accepted and gearing up for the trip, or just curious about the organization! Do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also feel free to keep up with me here.
It’s been just over a week since we said farewell to the 2016 Summer Field Reps. Thanks to this group of amazing individuals, Saha partnered with 15 communities in Northern Ghana to open 9 new water treatment businesses and 6 new solar charging businesses, which provide jobs to 27 new entrepreneurs. 3,288 people now have permanent access to safe drinking water and 2,232 people have access to reliable, clean solar electricity. Additionally, 16 of our water entrepreneurs have now been trained to run solar businesses, increasing their earning potential!
We can’t believe that it’s been 10 days since we packed our bags and loaded up together for the last time – surprisingly on time and without technical difficulties, a real Tamale miracle! We are so grateful for the energies, talents and passions that you brought to Saha, which were essential to the opening of these new water and solar businesses. It is no exaggeration to say that because of you, thousands of people are living their lives with more opportunities for health and happiness. It was a pleasure to work with each and every one of you, and we are so lucky to continue to have you as members of the Saha Team! As head off to your next impactful endeavors, remember your community and Saha, and let us know what we can do to further your missions.
To quote Kpanshegu’s chief, as he related to Team Amin during their Chief Meeting, “There is currently a shift in the consciousness of the African culture to realize that they [the villagers] deserve it [clean water, electricity, education,etc.]. True knowledge is not knowing English or how to read or write, but rather it is the recognition of who you are and what you need to do; and if you explain that this [business] is theirs and that they need to work with you for it, that they will appreciate it and make it their own. And those who have knowledge and do not share it with others will be cursed by god whether they know it or not. It is your job with knowledge to pass it on to others and facilitate that change.”