A meeting to remember
As the Winter 2017 Saha Global field representatives have completed orientation in Tamale, each team recently went out to their assigned villages for the first time. In this blog post members of “Team Peter”, named for their translator and long-time Saha Global employee, reflect on their first encounter with the community of Labariga.
Becky: The implementation process so far has been a lesson in perspective. I was the team member to lead the community meeting a few days ago at Labariga, with the help of Peter translating. While the content I presented was similar to the material I told the chief and elders, the experience was vastly different. Looking out onto all the members honestly took my breath away. Gathered under the shade of a large and old tree, I explained why we were here. As I explained the difference of dirty and clean water, I saw understanding dawn on men and women to my left and right. I passed around tests that showed the presence of E. Coli in the water from their stream and then clean water samples. It was such an honor to be able to share with this community that we came to give them access to fresh, clean drinking water and to watch their faces as they learned this. To have my words be the ones that brought about this new opportunity was so profound, and I don’t think I’ll forget how it felt to be fully in that moment. From the outside looking in, it was a circle of people looking at these strange salamingas (foreigners). From my vantage point, it was a group of friends learning and growing together. But regardless of perspective, it was a moment that our entire community at Labariga will always remember.
Shannon: The most memorable moment for me was meeting the whole village for the first time. Seeing the faces of every man, woman, and child in Labariga connected me to the mission of Saha in a whole new way — it became personal.
I’ll never forget how they welcomed us into their community, literally bringing us into their circle as we talked about the water treatment center. Even though we could not speak the same language, I believe everyone could feel just how special that moment was. It was the beginning of a new chapter for us all.
Micah: Sitting on the edge of a circle with the whole Labariga community provided a glimpse into the nuances of their village life. As Becky spoke to the community about their water, I watched the people around us for hints about their customs. Some things were obvious: men and women sat on opposite sides of the circle; older people were given chairs while children sat at their feet and the young men and women stood behind (demonstrating a level of respect for age that often seems absent in the United States); all of the village elders sat around the chief. As the conversation continued, it became clearer and clearer that each of these community members understood some sense of a code of conduct, the intricacies of which escaped me.
When given the chance to ask questions, it seemed as though the whole community waited for one of the older women to speak before raising their own inquiries. Was this woman given such respect because she was the oldest, or perhaps because she was married to the chief, or perhaps because she had some special role to play in providing the community with water? Which woman was the mother of which child? It was nearly impossible to tell, as each kid moved seamlessly between the women, congregating now around one and then branching off to another. As I watched the people around me, I was increasingly aware of the fact that the people of Labariga were all operating under a nuanced set of roles which I could only guess at — out of everything we have done so far, it was the simultaneously the clearest and most mystifying look into the culture of our community.
Terynek: Everything I have encountered I have captured on camera. The emotion, I think, translated through visuals is more than words can express, and being able to capture special moments on camera is a lasting memory no one can take from you. You will always remember the exchange that you experienced.
We can’t wait to work with our entrepreneurs to get this clean water business up and running!