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10 years with Saha Global: Reflections from Wahab

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.”

   

Emergency Coronavirus Water Fund Extended Through Dec 31st

Back in July, we announced the Emergency Coronavirus Water Fund, extending the government of Ghana’s free water initiative to all Saha communities.  At the end of September, the Ghanaian government announced that they are extending their free water initiative through the end of the year. With that extension comes the expectation that all Community Service Organizations, including Safe Water Enterprises like Saha Global, provide free water as well. While there was no official indication at the time that this extension was going to be announced, Saha was prepared for this possibility which is why our Board of Directors had voted to extend the EWF through Dec. 31st back in July. It felt good to be prepared when the official announcement was made!

We are extremely proud of how the Emergency Water Fund has included our community partners in this important, life-saving initiative during a pandemic. Saha is dedicated to working in the hardest to reach places, and leaving no one behind.  Over the past few months, we’ve seen great enthusiasm from our women entrepreneurs and community partners.  We’re seeing more clean water than every before being consumed in our communities.  Our team has risen to this new challenge, delivering supplies and customer service throughout a difficult rainy season.  We’re grateful to our funding partners, who understand that this year is different than any other for Saha, and for the world.

 

 

Staying Safe from Coronavirus While Delivering Clean Water

When COVID-19 was first confirmed in Ghana this March, we knew we needed a good plan to change our operations, keep the team safe, and fulfill our mission.  During those first few weeks, we developed our remote customer calling and other remote work structures.  We’ve since developed safety protocols such that we feel confident to have our team in the field, doing what we do best – getting clean water to people who need it!

COVID-19 safety measures changed several things: day-to-day operations for our Saha teammates, things we ask of our entrepreneurs and businesses, and changes to how we operate in the communities.  Managers and other office-based staff who can work from home are encouraged to as much as possible, and have extra data packages so they can get their work done without the office internet. In the office, you wash your hands outside before entering, and must wear a face mask at all times.  We miss all the handshakes, hugs, and high-fives, but we know if we stay safe, we’ll be able to enjoy those expressions of friendship and camaraderie again!

In the field, front-line teammates wear masks and gloves, and carry hand sanitizer with them.  Each teammate has either several cloth, washable masks, or is supplied with disposable ones depending upon their preference.  After all, the best mask is the one you wear!

When we are in the field, we’ve changed how we communicate to stay outdoors and avoid entering the interior of any structure.  If we need to do a small group meeting, like with some village VIPs and the entrepreneurs, we do them outside, safely distanced, under a tree.  Community meetings and household visits, always a great way to spread information, are also on hold for now as we avoid large gatherings or going door to door and being in contact with lots of people.  The great thing is that because everyone knows about COVID-19, it’s easy to explain why we’ve changed our procedures.  It’s gratifying to know that the people in the villages understand we are doing these things in order to keep them safe!  At first, it was awkward to not shake hands and wear masks while talking, or to ask to meet the elders outside rather than in the chief palace.  But as the pandemic continues, more and more we hear from our partners that they are happy we are trying our best to protect their health.

Our entrepreneurs have also changed the way they run their business, beyond the free water.  They all wear face masks while selling water – in fact, our front-line team reports that when they show up in a community and sales are happening, 100% of the time, the entrepreneurs have their masks!  To date, we’ve distributed over 600 masks – 1 for each entrepreneur, and starting this month we will be distributing enough so that each entrepreneur has 5 so she can wash them between uses.  They are also enforcing social distancing at their businesses during sales.  It’s so hard to remember to do, so we are really proud that 96% of the time, we can observe social distancing during sales!  For those familiar with our usual opening day photos with plenty of crowded people and buckets, this is a huge change.

With safety as the first priority, we adapt to each new piece of information as the world learns more about COVID.  The protocols we have make us feel confident that we are protecting our team and our partners.

Announcing: The Emergency Coronavirus Fund

The coronavirus pandemic has continued to affect everyone’s life all across the globe.  Here at Saha, we are pleased to announce a new effort to help promote hygiene and clean water consumption in the fight against this virus.

Saha’s Board of Directors approved an exciting new initiative in our COVID-19 response.  In alignment with the Ghanaian government’s efforts to provide free water access for as many Ghanaians as possible for 3 months, Saha created Coronavirus Emergency Water Funds for each of our partner communities. These funds will allow all people living in Saha partner communities to access free water from their Saha business for the months of June, July and August. While this is different than our typical social enterprise model, this emergency effort strongly aligns with our organization’s mission as well as the overall goals of our COVID-19 response. Our leadership team has done extensive risk analysis and mitigation planning and we feel confident that this short term, emergency relief effort, will not have a negative impact on our entrepreneurs’ ability to charge for water in the long-run. Instead, we believe this initiative will contribute to a positive relationship with both the government and our community partners while also providing Saha with a lot of opportunities to learn about demand, price and business logistics. 

We are dedicated to our mission – getting the cleanest water to the people who need it most, now more than ever.  We’re grateful to have this story covered by several Ghanaian news sources, including Citi Newsroom, story linked here.

The response from our partner communities has been overwhelmingly positive.  We are so proud at Saha that we keep showing up, month after month, year after year, even during a crisis, for nearly 100,000 people.  Stories from the field to come over the next days and weeks.

Baramini in Gidanturu – a Saha entrepreneur for 10 years, proudly serving free clean water for her community.

Saha Global’s Response to COVID-19

We wanted to take a moment to update our supporters on how Saha is responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Ghana announced the first two confirmed COVID-19 cases in country on March 12th. Like everywhere, the situation is changing daily as the case number grows.

The goals of Saha’s COVID-19 response are the health of our staff and partner communities, communicating accurate information, and following the instructions of public health officials. With those three goals in mind, we have decided to pause any new water business implementations while we wait to see how the situation in Ghana progresses. Instead, we are going to focus our efforts on making sure that our 247 current partner communities have the water treatment supplies that they need to keep their water businesses running smoothly.  We are also reaching out to our government partners to see if and how Saha can help spread accurate information about COVID-19, hand washing and/or other important messages since we have such strong relationships with so many remote, rural villages and the staff/transport required to reach those communities quickly.

Saha’s office hand-washing station, with instructions on our demonstration water treatment center.

As soon as the first cases were announced in Ghana, our entire staff, in small groups, went through training on COVID-19 and how to protect yourselves via frequent hand-washing, social distancing, and staying home when sick.  We set up a hand-washing station at the office and mandated anyone who entered the compound had to wash their hands.  Despite the reduction in field work, we are committed to continuing to pay our staff through the duration of their contracts, and have been using this time to develop and test new ways for our team members to support our entrepreneurs remotely. We are also continuing to provide health insurance benefits as well as a new unlimited sick-leave policy.  We also gave one safe storage container to each team member so they can set up their own hand-washing station at home to keep their families safe.

Hand-washing at home, thanks to a Saha safe storage container

In the last two weeks, we have transitioned to work-from-home for our whole team.  Our field team has been working hard together on establishing phone contacts for all 247 villages. This sounds simpler than it is!  We work in the most remote, rural places in northern Ghana, where few people have cells phones, there is no electricity to charge that phone, and network connections are poor. Our team has gotten creative – using the numbers of motoking and market truck drivers, or contacts from nearby villages to reach our entrepreneurs. To date we have successfully been able to contact 80% of our villages through these methods. This work is ongoing but we are confident that our innovative, hardworking team will find a way to remotely reach all of our village partners. We are also developing new protocols that minimize contact and support proper social distancing recommendations for when our entrepreneurs need our support in securing more water treatment supplies or fixing a technical problem.

Team meetings look a little different than they used to! Now the whole team is working from home.

So much is different for Saha (and all of us) compared to just a few weeks ago. One thing that hasn’t changed is that clean water is essential for health. In our 247 partner communities, the Saha water business is the only source of clean water for the residents there. These businesses are currently serving a total of 110,000 people.  Saha is in it for the long haul with our partner communities, and we will continue to support them in delivering clean water no matter the circumstances.  We thank you for your continuing support as we fulfill our mission to bring the cleanest water to the people who need it most.

A Fond Farewell to the GLP

Almost 10 years ago, in June of 2010, Saha (then called Community Water Solutions) hosted 5 volunteers in Ghana as a part of our newly launched Global Leadership Program (then called the CWS Fellowship Program). At that time, Saha was a small, new non-profit. We had 5 water businesses up and running and were excited about the results we were seeing in our partner villages. We knew that our idea for low-tech, locally owned water businesses had the potential to have a major impact on the water crisis, especially in the small “last-mile” communities that were often left out of typical water solutions. But, we were struggling to grow. There were hundreds of villages in northern Ghana without safe drinking water that could benefit from a Saha water business, but we lacked the man-power and the funding to reach them.

The first-ever Saha Field Reps: James, Molly, Amaia, Ben and Sarah

That all changed when Ben, Molly, Sarah, Amaia and James arrived in Tamale. Before coming to Ghana, these 5 volunteers raised enough money to launch and monitor a water business in the village of Wambong. They then travelled to Ghana for 3 weeks and worked alongside Saha to train Abiba and Monera, two women from Wambong, how to treat water from the contaminated village water source, make it safe to drink, and then set up a business selling this water to their community. After the 3 weeks, Ben, Molly, Sarah, Amaia, and James returned to the US. Abiba and Monera continued to run the water business (Abiba is still in charge today!), and Saha continued to monitor the business. The Saha Global Leadership Program was born!

To date, we have hosted 517 Field Reps in Ghana who have helped Saha launch 114 clean water businesses and 24 solar businesses in 114 rural villages throughout the Northern Region of Ghana. These businesses provide safe drinking water to 49,300 people while the solar businesses provided access to electricity to 8,700 people. Almost 300 women from rural Ghana run these businesses, who are able to earn income for their families while providing life-saving access to water to their communities.

Aidan, Sophie, Natalie and Kaz in Bonyase

Over the past 10 years we’ve joined our Field Reps on 28 20+ hour bus rides. We’ve laughed through icebreakers, celebrated Fire Festivals and Damba Festivals. We’ve endured countless taxi breakdowns. We watched hundreds of sunrises and sunsets, celebrated 138 opening days, talked for hours during debriefs, and so much more.  We met so many interesting people, who have continued to support Saha for years after their time in Ghana. Hosting this program every summer and winter was such a joy and we are so thankful to each and everyone of the 517 people choose to volunteer their time, talents and skills to help Saha grow.

The Saha team ready to play football!

Since that first program in June 2010, Saha has evolved tremendously. We now have 210 water businesses serving safe drinking water to almost 100,000 people. Thanks to the generous support of our foundation partners as well as many donors from around the world, we’ve been able to grow our Ghanaian staff and now provide jobs at Saha to over 50 people from northern Ghana. Our team is able to open new businesses throughout the dry season, instead of just during the months when we host Field Reps. This allowed us to open 70 new water businesses in 2019 – almost tripling our 2018 impact.

The 2013 Summer Field Reps at GILBT, the awesome guest house where our volunteers stayed in Tamale.

Saha has always been and will continue to be focused on serving remote, rural villages. The Global Leadership Program worked because there were so many rural villages without water access within a 2-hour radius of Tamale (the capital of the Northern Region where we could safely host our volunteer Field Reps). This is no longer the case. Saha has officially reached all of the rural villages that are a good fit for our solution within that 2-hr radius of Tamale. While we tried many times to host Field Reps in the smaller city of Salaga, we have found that it is not possible for Saha to safely run the program outside of Tamale. This means, that starting in 2020, Saha will no longer be running the Global Leadership Program. 

Ending the GLP is bittersweet. We are so, so grateful for the support that our Field Reps have provided over the past 10 years. There is no question that Saha would not be where we are today without this program. Over the past decade we grew from a MIT student-project spin off to a thriving non-profit impacting almost 100,000 people with plans to reach 800,000 by 2023. We met some incredible people through this program. In fact, every American that has ever worked for Saha, besides Kate (our co-founder) started as a Field Rep! This program was incredibly impactful, and it was SO FUN!

At the same time, we are really proud of that fact that 58 of our 61 current staff members are Ghanaian and almost all of them are from the region that we serve.  By making the transition to an all-Ghanaian implementation team, we are able to take advantage of the entire dry season, opening new businesses 8 months out of the year instead of just 2. We know this is the right next step on our path to achieving 100% water coverage in Northern Region Ghana.

To all of our Field Rep alums – THANK YOU. Thank you for your support, not just in Ghana when you were a Field Rep, but also after you came home. You’ve fundraised, shared stories and photos, advocated for our work, and so much more. We are so lucky to have you all in the Saha family, forever!  In closing, we thought we’d share some of our favorite photos from the GLP.

 

… and that’s a WRAP! Reflections on Summer 2019’s Global Leadership Program

It’s hard to believe that it’s been just two days since we said goodbye to the 2019 Summer Field Reps. Thanks to this awesome group students and young professionals, Saha was able to partner with with 5 more communities in Northern Ghana to open new water treatment businesses. Because of them, 1,221 people now have the ability to drink clean water each day. 17 women entrepreneurs are able to provide potable water to their friends, family and neighbors through community-supported small businesses. And Saha is able to welcome 20 new faces to our global Saha family!

Aidan, Alex, Ali, Amanda, Emily, Gretchen, Grace, Jonell, Kayla, Kaz, Leslieann, Maggie B, Maggie R, Mitch, Natalie, Olivia, Quinn, Sarah, Shannon, and Sophie:

Can you believe it? We sweated through taxi breakdowns and laughed through broken stand disasters. We rolled alum balls on the porch and rolled with the punches more generally. We navigated the market and the ins and outs of a new-to-us culture. Most importantly, we found joy and success in the surprise of the unanticipated. Though not every moment was easy, all the (literal) blood, sweat and tears certainly paid off. 
It was such a pleasure to work with all of y’all, and we consider ourselves lucky to count you as part of Sahayili! As you head off to your next adventures, please don’t forget

Kpegunaya, Chahanaya, Bonyase, Dasana Kuraa, Kpintalga

and all of us here at Saha, and let us know what we can do to further your missions.

With gratitude,

Rhiana & Team Saha

and now… the jumping pics!

Team Bangaham in Chahanaaya
Team Shirazu in Dasana Kuraa
Team Jude in Bonyase
Team Kamil in Kpegunaya
Team Nestor in Kpintalga

Voices from the Field: Team Nestor in Kpintalga

Hello from Team Nestor! Our team consists of: Maggie from Rhode Island, Ali from Brooklyn, Kayla from Wisconsin, and Sarah from Virginia.

Today was opening day in the village of Kpintalga! We arrived in the village a little before noon, distributing the rest of the safe storage containers (SSC). Though our opening day was previously planned for Tuesday, but we had to push it back until Thursday due to an unexpected death in the community and the metal stand which held the polytank collapsing. This was a devastating event for both us and our entrepreneurs since it caused us to empty out our FULL polytank. But Saha has definitely taught us that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, so we were prepared.

But Team Nestor persevered and after a couple of incredibly hot and tiring days of distribution, we were ready for opening day! Our women entrepreneurs, Arishetu and Alima, were just as enthusiastic as us and ready to run their business.

The first safe storage container (SSC) the entrepreneurs filled was the Chiefs’, a great honor ritual we got to experience. Then, as we blasted some American tunes, sang some Girl Scout songs, and played some rough games of soccer, the clean water business of Kpintalga was officially open! A total of 35 out of 40 distributed SSCs made an appearance, and many of the women (especially the kids) were very excited to try the clean water. A huge highlight of the day: no leakages in our SSCs!

All of the women and kids could carry them on their heads without any water dripping down their faces.

While Nestor helpfully translated for us, Kayla was responsible for all the pictures (giving credit where credit is due, obviously). All the pictures you’ve seen from Team Nestor is all because of Kayla’s hard-work, photography skills, and iPhone X. All the kids were incredibly excited and jumpy whenever the iPhone was pulled out of Kayla’s pocket, ready to snap a memory into permanence. Ali took the administrative role, counting all the SSCs that came to the business and interacted with many of the women. She kept track of the finances and marked off the women who arrived so we could follow up with those who hadn’t, and definitely was the glue that held the group together today. Opening day would have been much more chaotic and far messier if Team Nestor didn’t have Ali in our group. When she wasn’t holding a sleeping Mohmin or tickling Yousseif (we call him Mr. Giggles), Maggie was hard at work, cleaning all of the SSCs. It is really important that SSCs are cleaned often in order to prevent a reemergence of bacteria and dirt. Maggie played a huge role in making sure the new water in Kpintalga was clean and healthy by removing all dirt possible and making sure everyone received healthy and safe drinking water. Sarah, who may be the muddiest of us all, did what she usually does: keep the children entertained and out of the way of the adults. She gave all the kids tons of high fives, taught them new hand games, and shouted Girl Scout songs at the top of her lungs while running around the open field with the kids.

However, the day would’ve gone flawlessly even without our help as Arishetu took complete charge and did an impeccable job serving her community.

Overall, not only did Team Nestor have a great opening day, but also a fantastic week. We are very grateful to have a translator like Nestor, who is a natural leader and incredibly enthusiastic about team spirit. We are also very appreciative that we were assigned such a great community that welcomed us with so much hospitality and excitement. Team Nestor has loved every minute in our community and although our journey is coming to an end as we finish up with monitoring households and clean water school education, it is only the beginning for the community.  Though we are thrilled that the loving village of Kpintalga has clean water, we are sad to see our time in Ghana come to end. This experience has opened up our eyes in ways we can’t imagine and we will never forget the people of Kpintagla and the memories we have made.

Voices from the Field: Team Kamil in Kpegunaayili

Team Kamil here, or as he likes to call us, Team Crazy! This is Maggie, Grace, Shannon, and Leslieann, and we have been working in the small village of Kpegunaayili for the past ten days or so. Before our arrival, the villagers were drinking water the color of chocolate milk, full of E. coli and other harmful bacteria. They knew this water was detrimental to their health, but were not sure why. Not to mention, they had no other option. It has been amazing seeing the villagers learn about the impact water has on their health and how easily they adapt to the Saha method.

Today was our opening day, and our turnout was awesome! Samata, Fegima, Azumie, and Amna, our four entrepreneurs, worked diligently in their spare time to make their business successful. They are incredibly fast learners, needing only one example from us to successfully complete every task. In the past two days, we distributed 29 Safe Storage Containers (SSC’s) to our tiny village, and the entrepreneurs sold 27 buckets worth of the newly cleaned water this morning! The two women who were unable to make it this morning were busy picking Shea nuts, and we are very confident they will stop by the center later today, as everyone was very excited about their newly purified water.

Working in the small village has definitely had its benefits! Everyone has been super involved through every step of the process, from the kids helping us distribute the SSC’s, to nearly the entire village showing up at the center for its opening day. Even though all the children were shy at first, they have become used to us throughout our time at the village, and now when we leave they run after our car smiling and waving. The language barrier was initially intimidating, but we have all grown as a whole, field reps and entrepreneurs alike. All of us have learned that you do not need to speak the same language in order to feel the same emotions. Putting this aside, Kamil, our translator, has definitely been an integral part of our team, making this experience fun and interactive for everyone involved. We are so grateful to have him, and he has provided so much guidance for us and the women. Plus, he has great style!!

As four privileged students, this experience has opened our eyes to a part of the world that we do not normally see. Amenities that we view as staples in our daily lives can be commodities for others. We are forever grateful to the community of Kpegunaayili for welcoming us into their lives with open arms, and to Saha for providing us with this amazing opportunity. We will take what we have learned with us for the rest of our lives, and never take another sip of clean water for granted.

Voices from the Field: Team Jude in Bonyase

As we waited outside Holy Cross for our translator, Jude, to arrive so we could attend mass with him, it became clear to us that we were all far underdressed. “Sunday best” is not taken lightly in Tamale, as all attendees walking into the church were dressed in a variety of bright colors and bold patterns. When Jude arrived, we walked in together and sat in the middle section of the church, mesmerized by the beautiful color scheme.

 

After announcements and prayer requests, the people in the front two rows of the left section rose to their feet. A man started clapping softly and singing as the two rows slowly started to join in, creating a natural crescendo until their voices echoed in the church. Two men sat with drums between their legs and joined the choir singers in praise. 

Each of the three sections of the church had a choir in the first couple rows, and each choir sang in a different language. The choirs took turns leading songs, but even the members of the congregation that did not understand the language of the song swayed and clapped along. As Jude told us, even though the members speak different languages, they all come together in unity to worship.

During one of the songs, rain started pouring. The rain smacked onto the tin roofs so thunderously that it almost drowned out the voices. Like a normal Northern Ghanaian rainfall, though, rain fell intensely for about 10 minutes but then let up, leaving only a sprinkle for the next hour or so.

As the last song died down, two teenagers came to the podium and began reading from the Gospel. One read in English and the other repeated in Dagbani, the predominate language in Northern Ghana. The congregation then knelt and we followed suit until instructed to rise and greet one another. We nervously made eye contact with the weekly attendees around us until one of the ladies in a blue and orange sun dress reached out to shake our hands. Others followed, and a dozen handshakes later we considered ourselves members of Holy Cross Tamale.

We filed out of the church and stood outside with Jude and his wife, Joyce, and their two young daughters as they greeted their friends. We had planned to go to Jude’s tailor after the service to have clothes made for us with the fabric we had been buying throughout the trip, but Jude informed us that he was unavailable at that time. Instead, we decided to go back to the market until lunchtime. We headed over to the taxi where Nkatia, our team’s taxi driver, was waiting for us. “Did you pray for me?” Nkatia asked, jokingly. We laughed and responded, “The entire time.”

After shopping at the market and getting lunch at Wooden with Jude and Nkatia, we headed to our village, Bonyase. Like most of our excursions, Jude sat in the passenger seat of the taxi while the four of us had to squeeze in the back. Our seating arrangement only exacerbated the already unbearable heat of the day, and our sweat combined between our arms and legs. 

The drive from GILLBT guest house where we were staying to Bonyase typically takes about an hour and a half, with the first hour on the main paved Tamale road and the last 30 minutes on a bumpy dirt road. Bonyase was idyllically situated south of the Volta River, giving the land a lush, green jungle and plenty of room for lots of cattle to roam. As we arrived, goats and dogs lazily lay in the sun. We got out of the taxi and stretched. Aidan headed towards the goats to try in vain to catch one while Kaz, Sophie, and Natalie played with the children. Jude asked one of the children to fetch Howa, one of the woman entrepreneurs, and the boy quickly ran down the trail towards Howa’s compound to get her. 

We waited with the kids until she arrived, drawing in the dirt, dancing, and giving a generous amount of high fives. Kaz started guessing each of the children’s names that she remembered from before, and they laughed at our accents and mispronunciations. When Howa arrived, Sophie bowed and said “despa” to her, the polite morning greeting, forgetting it was now afternoon. Jude reminded her, “Sophie, it is not morning, it is the afternoon. You say ahntray!” Howa laughed and responded with the usual “naa.”

Today was one of our four planned distribution days, so it was going to be a long day. The children helped, though, by carrying our blue water containers from compound to compound as we spoke to the women about what the container was for and how each household should properly use them. Salamatu, one of the entrepreneurs, also decided to take control of the distribution. At every house we went to, she immediately held up the 3M test from the lab. The sample showed the bacteria that was present in the dugout water that the village drinks. Almost everyone that saw the sample was shocked at what was going into their bodies. Lamatu, another entrepreneur, and Howa would cackle in the background at the women’s expressions and occasionally add their own input. 

We planned to open the business in three days, so we had to make sure to distribute safe water containers to every one of our 50+ households by then. By the end of the day, we went to fifteen households and distributed over thirty safe water containers which was much more than anticipated. With the help of Salamatu, Howa, Lamatu, and the village children, instead of having a long grueling day in the sun we had a rowdy and enjoyable successful one. 

 

Team Jude:

Natalie Fleming

Sophie Kurdziel

Kaz Ogita

Aiden Sabety