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Field Rep Voices: Team Ashley, Lizzy, Stew, Taufik and Taylor

Our first visit to Nekpanzoo was really exciting! We visited their river and 8 wells that they use for their water sources and took some samples. When we met with the chief of the village, we brought him cola nuts and passed them around. After pitching our idea of building a water purification center for people in his community, the chief was ecstatic to work with us. Our translator Taufik told us the chief was so thankful for us going to Nekpanzoo and that tomorrow we can have a community meeting where three women will be selected to learn how to purify the water, run, and own their own business within the village. The chief was so thankful he decided to give us a chicken as a gift. I thought the entire experience of meeting with the chief was really awesome. It was cool to be part of this cultural experience and hear the excitement of the chief and elders. Our team is looking forward to making a positive impact on Nekpanzoo! – Ashley Stein

Ashley holding the gifted chicken presented to our team

 

Coming into the village we introduced ourselves and greeted the Chief, asking permission to look at the village’s water sources. The Chief’s son Mohammed took us to see the river and we drove over a mile from the town to the water’s edge. The landscape was strikingly beautiful, green and lush, with a pale uneven ground that rose and fell with swirling patterns in the dirt. We climbed the gently rolling hills, taking in the greenery and bushes that lined the river, like something from a documentary. I listened to Mohammed explain how far the river would rise in the rainy season as he pointed to a branch on a tree that was above my head and gestured with his hands to the beginning of the dirt road we had driven down. I realized I was standing in a flood plain. A local fisherman cast his net into the river, pulling it out expertly and taking out fish. He placed his fish in a bucket and then went into the river to swim after his dinner. Mohammed took us on a tour of the village. We walked past the broken covered pump well that only had salty water when working and past the school to the center of town. There was a large pit in the ground open and only somewhat lined with porous rocks. Stew climbed down to gather a sample from the smallest puddle at the bottom. We continued on throughout the village to see the other 6 wells in the town, some protected with concrete, some small pits in the ground outlined with wood or tires, all mostly dry with a small amount of very brown water at the bottom. At the end of the tour, between our observations of the mostly dry wells and the mile wide flood plain we knew we were about to face challenges when deciding on the best location for the Saha clean water center. – Lizzy Merin

Lizzy standing by the river

We arrived in Nekpanzoo prepared to determine the viability of a water treatment center, depending upon water availability and community interest. Unfortunately, as we explored various different sources of water throughout the village, it became apparent that locating a functional site for the center could prove challenging. The Chief’s son explained to us that in the dry season villagers mainly gathered water from a local stream. However, when the rains came, they would flood the area around the river for a mile, but until that happened the wells in the village would remain mostly empty. The center is mobile, but timing would prove tricky. Fortunately, I was greatly encouraged by our meeting with the village Chief. After we explained our mission and plans for Nekpanzoo’s water, he responded enthusiastically. Despite the obvious challenges, he recognized the importance of enriching health within his community. Upon leaving the village, I felt confident that our team’s dedication to providing clean water, matched by the village’s hope for a healthier, happier way of living, could surmount any obstacles we encountered. – Stewart Coard

Stew taking a sample of the well water

Looking back on all we were able to accomplish on our first visit to Nekpanzoo, I am overwhelmed with immense feelings of joy and excitement for our upcoming work with the community and the eventual installment of our water treatment center! The most thrilling part of the day came to me moments before entering the Chief’s palace. I had been selected by my team to be the one member to “pitch” Saha’s mission to the elders, an honor I was I more than a little enthusiastic to accept! It was during those few adrenaline-filled seconds when I was removing my sandals and ducking my head to enter the mud hut, that the true gravity of what we were there to do sunk in. All morning we had been going around and taking unclean samples from the community’s water sources. Along the way we passed by homes where people had drums filled with dirty water, water they had specifically set aside to drink. There was no alternative drinking option, no clean water source for them to pull from – dirty drinking water was simply their reality. But luckily that reality was one they would soon no longer have to embrace, because our Saha team had arrived to share great news. After the formal greetings of welcome were exchanged in our meeting, I was finally able to share this life changing opportunity: “We are from Saha Global, we’re here to bring clean drinking water to Nekpanzoo!” – Taylor Gorycki

Taufik, Ashley and Taylor in the meeting with the Chief
Ashley, Mohammed, Taylor and Taufik walking through the floodplain

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