Team Shiraz here! Led by our translator, Shiraz, and our ever-stylish driver, Gaf, we are Alex, Emily, Jonell and Gretchen. Two weeks in and we’ve made a lot of progress. We are working with the community of Dasana Kuraa, located about 2 hours south of Tamale. “Kuraa” means farming community, and the villagers collect shea nuts on the farm. Last week we went to the market to collect our supplies, including a 140 L polytank, 3 large drums, 10 feet of chain and one elusive wrench. On Friday we brought all the materials to the village and transported everything to the dugout – with the help of the entire community. The kids all helped carry buckets and soap, while the women balanced blue drums on their heads, and the men transported the enormous polytank on two long branches.
So far, this day has been the highlight of our project. Before we could assemble the drums and the stand, everything had to be thoroughly cleaned. We thought we only needed soap and water, but the women showed us how to use ash and some gravel to scrub the oily residue from inside the drum clean. Next, we started cleaning the polytank. Shiraz began adding buckets of water and soap, then said, “Okay, Jonell. Get in!” And in she went. We wanted our PT to be squeaky clean – we would run another test before opening day to be sure there was no coliform or e.coli in the water.
Once everything was clean, we filled the drums with dugout water (with a few feeble attempts from members of our own team) and watched as the women skillfully balanced garawas of water on their heads before emptying them into the drums. The whole process took them less than 10 minutes. Using the balls of alum we made during training, we demonstrated how to apply the alum with a vigorous whipping motion to encourage the dirt particles to flocculate and settle to the bottom. The drums would sit overnight and we crossed our fingers for the alum to do its work. Too much, and it will taste bitter (no bueno). Too little, and the water would still be cloudy.
We painted the stand as best we could in the rain. We mounted the polytank at the end of the day and installed the tap. Amina, one of our entrepreneurs, screwed in the tap as the community stood behind her and watched. We were inspired by the engagement of the whole community and humbled by how much we learned from them at every step of the process.
More recently, we met with each household individually to talk about the water center and distribute the Safe Storage Containers. During these meetings, we also asked about their household size and current water habits. We took the time to explain how bacteria enters the water, and how drinking fecally contaminated water can make you sick. Holding up the 3M test helped visualize how drinking dirty dugout water can impact our health. One woman, Hadija, said how fed up she was about drinking dugout water. We could see from their reactions that they wanted better for themselves and their families, and that they were grateful for our assistance in making that a reality.
We’re looking forward to another day of distribution with the Fulani tomorrow. We are feeling ready and excited for opening day on Tuesday!