When work anniversaries happen, it’s nice to take a step back and reflect on the years gone by. For Wahab, 2020 marks ten years working with Saha. What follows is a condensed summary of a conversation between Operations Manager, Rhiana Meade, and Front-Line Supervisor, Wahab Lawal.
Wahab’s first memory of joining Saha is that he actually missed his first meeting! He was supposed to meet Kate in the afternoon one day, but had to attend a funeral with his mother in a village near Kumbungu. He remembers the next day, Kate and Peter drove by in the Saha truck to where he was selling phone credits and invited him to the field the following morning at 5:30 AM. Wahab remembers Kate, Peter, Shak, and TJ all went together to Nyanguripe, and he learned about what Saha did by listening to Peter lead the community meeting. After that, Wahab worked with Kate and TJ to implement the business. Then, Kate went back to the U.S., and Wahab and Peter implemented a new business in Mile 40.
At the time, there were only 5 Saha villages, but he vividly remembers visiting Wambong to learn about how the system worked for the first time. He recalls, “I was so impressed, and learning about the solution gave me motivation. Before I joined Saha, I always wanted to help my people, but I didn’t know how. Some people are teachers, some are policemen, some are soldiers – all do their work to help the nation. We have a water problem – it’s one of the biggest challenges we have. When I saw the clean water business, my feelings were such such deep love, I saw the work was so good and it would change a lot of lives.” Wahab has a personal connection to the clean water problem: his mother suffered from guinea worm multiple times when he was a child, and he remembers having to help care for her during those times.
The Global Leadership Program (GLP) arrived in January 2011, and Wahab implemented with his first of many teams of field representatives in Chani. To this day, he says, “Whenever I visit there, there is still energy in that community. I implemented both solar and water there, so to me it is my own community. My own home village.”
Working with the Saha has also given Wahab opportunities to travel beyond just villages for work. Some of his favorite memories are accompanying visiting field reps to tourist sites like Mole National Park and Kintampo Falls. When Saha won a UNDP grant, Wahab went to Accra with Morganne to receive the award. One of the most exciting trips was to TedXAccra, when the whole team traveled to Accra to support Kate as she spoke.
Much has changed at Saha in 10 years. First and foremost, the name! When Wahab started, it was “Community Water Solutions.” The name Saha means a lot of things in Dagbanli – time, luck, opportunity. He says, “the name has potential – it is a spiritual name. It’s a powerful name.” Whenever he meets new hires at Saha who have anxiety about their future prospects, he reassures them, don’t worry – Saha is a place where your luck, your opportunity can take you far.
Back in 2010, there were just 4, then 5 employees: now, he can’t even count how many work at Saha! He’s seen a lot of organizations and projects come and go in Tamale, but none that look like Saha. “Saha is there to change our lives – my life, the people’s lives. Anyone who works with Saha: their life is changed.”
So what’s still the same, all these years later? “We change things easily – we try new things, if it doesn’t work, then we change again. Saha changes a lot, we are flexible! We like trying new things and new skills. But the bad roads never change! We will always be riding our bikes on those bad roads every day!”
Finally, reflecting on ten years with Saha, Wahab says, “We thank God coming from where we started to here. The organization has not left me behind. I’m a supervisor, I’m part of the management team. When I look at that, I know I accomplished something real.”