Throughout our short journey so far with Saha, the chief meeting seemed to be one of the more intimidating things on our agenda. If it went well, then you could proceed to work on your team’s mission of building a fresh water or solar business. If it didn’t go well then it would be very disappointing for your team and you would have to find another place to go. Thankfully, none of the teams had to do this.
Team TJ went to a village named Tuya and I was chosen to be the spokesperson to the chief. We basically had to pitch a business proposal which included what we would be doing, how we would be doing it, and what part the village would play in the business.
The day started by arriving at the village and finding the chief and elders to ask for a meeting with them. We knew there was a possibility that the chief would be away and that we would have to schedule for another day, so we started by asking some people if the chief was there. We were happy to find that he was there and we were told to wait where we were.
An elder approached us as we were waiting and we greeted him by squatting and greeting him. He said that he would call the others together for the meeting. Plastic chairs were brought out for us and there were benches available for the chief and elders to sit on. The whole village started to assemble and the chief meeting quickly turned into a community meeting. This put a little more pressure on the situation, but being in the presence of the people we would possibly be working with gave me the energy to present the business plan as well as I could. Seeing the faces of the children, the mothers, and the chief and elders made me realize how excited I was to be in Ghana working to make their lives better.
The elder who approached us before sat down with some others and our translator, TJ, asked if the chief was coming. To our surprise we found out that he was the chief. He hadn’t told us earlier when we first met him and seemed to laugh about it as if he had tricked us quite well.
I started the meeting by greeting the community and thanking the chief for allowing us to have a meeting with them. I explained to the community that the water they were drinking was very harmful for their health. They laughed at this because they knew that the quality of their water could be so much better. I then explained more about the business. The chief and elders said “naa” or “mmm” throughout TJ’s translation of the business proposal. It was so interesting to hear this as their version of agreeing with what I was saying or approving of it.
At the end of the presentation the chief thanked us for bringing our plan to them and that they were so excited for this opportunity. They believe that healthy water is so important. They agreed to pick two women, make a household list, and meet with us the next day. We then presented the chief with cola nuts and passed it around for everyone to have a bite of. It was an interesting moment to witness the customs of the Dagomba people, and it was deeply humbling to be welcomed into the community with such open arms. They even gave us community names: ti pag ya, nassari, tadadi, and wumpini (spelling on these may be incorrect). What had seemed like an intimidating assignment of meeting with the chief had turned into a great success and we left with an overwhelming feeling of joy and excitement to get started with the rest of our project.