Blog

2019 Global Leadership Program Orientation

All 20 of our Summer 2019 Field Representatives safely arrived in Tamale this week!  In just a few short days, they’ve had a crash course in the global water crisis and water-related diseases, as well as the Saha model for intervention.

The teams joined Rhiana and Simply in the field with their first visits to current Saha villages of Dalibila and Laligu.  They were able to see working centers, meet some of our women entrepreneurs.  Mma Ayishetu in Dalibila gave some great advice: “be patient with the women you are working with, and teach them very well how to run the business, and they will be very patient with you and accept you.”

Team Jude, Team Nestor, and Team Kamil in Dalibila with Mma Ayishetu, Mma Ayi, and some friends.

In the afternoon, the teams learned how to use alum, a common coagulation-flocculation product, to remove particles from the water.  Then they learned how Saha monitors our current communities, and practiced having curious conversations with their translators.

Team Nestor making alum balls
Asita teaching the proper alum ball technique

Today, the teams were on their own for the first time in current Saha communities of Zowu, Mile 40, Libi, Nangbagu, and Tibugu, practicing monitoring, speaking with current entrepreneurs for advice, and learning more about how the Saha model works.  Tomorrow it’s off to their new communities for the first time! Good luck!

2019 Global Leadership Program Has Landed in Ghana!

A maraba to the Summer 2019 Field Representatives!  We have a great team of 20 jet-lagged yet excited young people who have arrived safely in Ghana to begin their experience!

The first day was spent in Accra, having an orientation to Ghana, introduction to Ghanaian transportation (tro-tros and taxi negotiations!) Dagbani language lessons, and getting to know their group.  Tomorrow we will be on the STC bus: next stop, Tamale!

First sweaty tro-tro selfie: check!

Field Rep Voices: A learning experience like no other

Julie is a sophomore at University of Pennsylvania who is working on dual degrees through the Jerome Fischer Program in Management and Technology. She’s also the founder of Peerlift, a nonprofit that helps high schoolers find college scholarships. 

If her story inspires YOU, apply to work with us in Ghana this summer: sahaglobal.org/gotoghana

Our 2nd Round closes this Sunday, March 17!

 

Why did you decide to apply for the Global Leadership Program?

I want to make sure whatever I’m doing helps people and makes an impact. I’m really interested in technology and business and where they come together and play.

A club at my school sent out an email about the Global Leadership Program around this time last year. I did a lot of research, and Saha checked all of the boxes for me. They really care about the communities they serve and are committed to sustainability.

What did you take away from the experience?

I learned so much from being in a new environment and working with people from so many different backgrounds. Visiting the villages and seeing the water businesses first-hand helped me learn things I never could have gotten from reading a book or watching a video.

One of the translators, Jonathan, and I connected over our common interest in technology. I learned so much from his experience and take on how to solve people problems. He shared how many children in northern Ghana lack access to computers. But when they do get a hold of technology, mostly through computing centers in the major cities, they often participate in scamming schemes to collect money. Jonathan has created a nonprofit to help these kids put their talent to use in a positive way by teaching them computer skills and, hopefully one day, programming.

With the nonprofit I started to connect high schoolers with scholarship opportunities for college, I’m trying to solve a different problem with different skills, but my passion and goal is similar — to improve access to education.

What was your “Saha aha” moment?

On our last day in the village there happened to be a big celebration, and we were included. There was music and dancing and kids running around everywhere. I felt so proud that the women we worked alongside invited us to be a part of something that was special for them. We didn’t just build a business and leave. We made some incredible connections with the community.

How has the Global Leadership Program influenced your work with Peerlift?

Twenty four hours after I got home from Ghana, I packed up again and left for San Francisco to go work on my start up. Everything I learned was so fresh and clear, from how to teach a skill or pitch a business to setting prices or choosing a location or person to run a business. The core basics of Saha Global’s model brought me back to the importance of always putting the people you serve first.

What advice do you have for future field reps?

Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. The experience is super rewarding, and you will learn a lot about yourself. I think it’s something everyone should try.

Keep an open mind, and take everything as it comes. Things will go wrong. Take a step back from the situation and work with your team to figure it out together.

And don’t forget to bring a lot of snacks!

If you think you could help Saha bring clean water to a new community this summer, get your application in now!

You can still make our “Second Round” Application Deadline: March 17th.

Let us know >> Apply Here!

 

Field Rep Voices: Laughter is Universal

Alexis is a senior from Long Island, New York who is getting her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Service & Administration at St. John’s University.

If her story inspires YOU, apply to work with us in Ghana this summer: sahaglobal.org/gotoghana

 

Why did you decide to apply for the Global Leadership Program?

Whenever my family would go on vacation, my parents made sure we gave back, especially in places where we have roots, like Guatemala, Argentina and Ecuador. So instead of going to the beach, we’d go work on a farm. That’s where my passion for partnering with people in developing communities began.

I heard about Saha Global from my friend Kayla who was a field rep in 2016 with the solar program.

What did you take away from the experience?

Going to Ghana with Saha Global was life changing for me. With everything that’s going on in our country it was a reminder that we are all human. If we aren’t willing to work with one another, who is? That was something very important I brought back home with me.

I got very attached to my community, Zakariyili, especially a little girl named Charisa, the chief’s granddaughter. She was with her mom (one of the entrepreneurs) every day. I could see that one day she would become part of the water business, too.

Even though we didn’t speak the same language, we formed strong emotional bonds with people. Our translator was great. She helped us communicate with everyone. And laughter is universal. The entire experience just left a place in my heart.

What was your “Saha aha” moment?

On my last day in Tamale I heard the women in the kitchen singing. The song was written by my church back home. In that moment, everything came full circle.

I gathered all of the things I wasn’t going to bring back — clothes and bug repellant — and gave them to the women. They were so happy that they were crying, and then I was crying, too. It’s not just about the communities you’re working in every day. You can change how people feel about their day through a simple gesture.

How has the Global Leadership Program influenced your career plans?

I’m really, REALLY passionate about social justice, especially systemic racism in our country. The program pushed me to look even deeper and understand my interest in social justice. I’m interested in finding work in Flint, Michigan after graduation (their water is STILL dirty). I never would have considered that before going to Ghana.

Someday I want to start my own nonprofit, so it was really awesome to see the inner workings of Saha and learn how to fundraise.

What advice do you have for future field reps?

Bring a first aid kit. My mom got me a traveler’s first aid kit with everything under the sun — ointment, Advil, aspirin, even a thermometer. I ended up using a substantial amount of it.

I wish I would have brought more stylish clothes. The women in the village were dressed so beautifully and I was wearing athletic gear the whole time.

Most of all, take it all in. The experience goes by pretty quick and you don’t think it will. Soak in every day and make as many connections with people as you can.

If you think you could help Saha bring clean water to a new community this summer, get your application in now!

You can still make our “First Round” Application Deadline: February 24th.

Let us know >> Apply Here!

 

Miss our Early Bird Deadline? It’s Not Too Late!

Did you miss A deadline?

 

Our next Global Leadership Program will take place in Tamale, Ghana from May 28 to June 18, 2019. While our Early Bird Application has just closed, we will still be filling up to three more teams (!!) over this spring. If you’re a hard-worker who thinks water is a human right, we want to talk to you.

Details:

Dates: May 28 – June 18, 2019

Location: Tamale, N/R, Ghana

Description: Come join a scrappy team on a mission to get the cleanest water to the poorest people. Since 2008, our three-week Global Leadership Program has trained hundreds of volunteer Field Representatives to help us launch women-owned businesses that provide clean water to an entire rural community in northern Ghana. If you’re passionate about clean water, global health & community-centered solutions, we can give you the training and support you need to get clean water to hundreds of people currently doing without.

Program Fee*: $3,500

Application: Open and Rolling

*covers all in-county expenses, including water treatment business materials, food and lodging but not the flight to Ghana. Most Field Reps cover this fee through fundraising, grants, or scholarships, which we’d be happy to discuss with interested folks!

Questions? Check out our FAQs or email us. We can’t wait to meet you.

Field Rep Voices: That time a humble tree nut closed the culture gap

Abby loved our program so much she did it twice! First, as a freshman, then as a junior. She is getting her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and International Studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  

If her story inspires YOU, apply to work with us in Ghana this summer: sahaglobal.org/gotoghana

Why did you decide to (re)apply for the Global Leadership Program?

I just fell in love with Saha’s approach and having the opportunity to take on a project and go in a direction your team thinks is right. We would come across challenges in the village and talk about how to overcome them together. That sense of ownership was really appealing to me. Seeing the impact of the water businesses firsthand was rewarding, too.

What did you take away from the experience?

Participating in the Global Leadership Program gave me more confidence. After my first field rep experience I got involved with Engineers without Borders. Now I’m president of my school’s club and am leading a multi-year water supply and distribution project in Ecuador. We’ve had to deal with politics, financial concerns, and monitoring challenges. My experience with Saha helped prepare me.

What was your “Saha aha” moment?

On my team’s first day in Zobogu, we sought out the chairman to request a meeting with the chief. The village is located right off the road, and we learned the community is accustomed to outsiders coming in to pitch projects. But the chairman was surprised to learn we brought kola nuts as a gift for the chief, a symbol of respect in their culture.

As a society, we know how to clean water. Technical skills and knowledge are important, but Saha taught me that working within the local culture is every bit as important. That really hit home for me when I saw all the signs for failed water projects at the village entrance.

Has the Global Leadership Program influenced your career plans?

Definitely. As a civil engineer major, I learned so much seeing the human side of the equation.  My Saha experience inspired me to look for other international development opportunities, particularly around access to clean water.

What advice do you have for future field reps?

Keep an open mind. Everything will be new and unexpected. There’s no way to know what it will be like until you get there.

Talk to someone who’s done the program before. That really helped me when I was going through the application process. Saha can help get you connected with a past field rep.

If you think you could help Saha bring clean water to a new community this summer, get your application in now!

You can still make our “Early Bird” Application Deadline: January 28th.

Let us know >> Apply Here!

 

 

Thank you, Peter!

Delivering the polytank to our 3rd-ever business in Jarigu

Today on the blog, we are taking some time to highlight and bid a fond farewell to Saha’s first full-time Ghana team member, Peter.  Peter has worked with us since 2008, when Saha Global was just an idea, and we implemented the second water business in Nymaliga. In many ways, Peter is co-founder of Saha Global and we would not be where we are today without him.  We are so excited to see what the future has in store for him, and today we want to revisit some of our favorite memories of Peter’s time with Saha.

Over the years, Peter worked on every project under the hot Tamale sun!  He implemented clean water businesses in countless villages, and went above and beyond to fulfil the Saha mission.  He even made Saha’s first radio appearance!

It is through Peter that we met many of our current full-time staff, translators, and taxi drivers, including Wahab, Eric, Nestor, Simply, and Taufik (to name a few!)  Many of our teammates fondly refer to him as “Father Peter.”

The (in)famous Saha truck!

In addition to our work together in the villages, Peter has gone on many traveling adventures as a member of Saha’s leadership team. The first, and one of the most notable, was Kate and Peter’s trip to Kumasi in 2010 to buy a truck for Saha. This story was made famous (or infamous?) in Kate’s 2013 Tedx talk. It was certainly a trip to remember!

A few years later, Peter joined Kate and Kathryn on scouting missions to our neighboring countries Burkina Faso and Togo, while we were searching for new areas for Saha to work. While none of us spoke French well, Kate and Kathryn remembered a few words from high school French class and it was fun to turn the tables and have to translate for Peter after years of having him translate Dagbani for us! We will always remember the delicious roadside salads, long days in the truck, and hilarious French conversations on that trip!

Exploring our francophone neighbors Burkina Faso and Togo

After that trip, Peter was charged with setting up our office in Salaga, and piloted the first Salaga Saha business in Tunga with Kate and Kathryn in 2012.  Peter also led all of the preparations for two Global Leadership Programs based in Salaga during 2013.

Opening the first Salaga Saha business in Tunga

Since then, Peter has split his time between Tamale and Salaga, holding down the fort at our Salaga office: monitoring our seven Salaga villages and scouting for many more communities to be implemented in the future.

Peter and 2013 Field Reps Carole Anne, Lilly and Caroline celebrating opening day in Kideng

We’ve experienced so much together over the past 10 years. Exciting opportunities for Saha, growing friendships, expanding families, and so much more!

We are so grateful for Peter’s 10-plus years of hard work and service, and can’t wait to see what the future holds!  Ti pagya pom, Peter!

Summer 2019 Applications are Open!

It’s officially fall! For those of us in North America, the days are shorter, the leaves are turning, and we are cracking the books again. For those of us in Northern Ghana, the rains are slowing, the roads are drying out, and we are gearing up for big re-openings of Saha water businesses. If you’re like us, you’re feeling a bit of nostalgia for summer now that it’s gone. So why not

to summer 2019?

 

Just announced: our next Global Leadership Program will take place in Tamale, Ghana from May 28 to June 18, 2019. We will not be running a program this winter, in order to allow our team to focus on opening more water treatment businesses. Your next opportunity to pitch in will be Summer 2019.

Details:

Dates: May 28 – June 18, 2019

Location: Tamale, N/R, Ghana

Description: Come join a scrappy team on a mission to get the cleanest water to the poorest people. Since 2008, our three-week Global Leadership Program has trained hundreds of volunteer Field Representatives to help us launch women-owned businesses that provide clean water to an entire rural community in northern Ghana. If you’re passionate about clean water, global health & community-centered solutions, we can give you the training and support you need to get clean water to hundreds of people currently doing without.

Program Fee*: $3,500

Application: Open and Rolling

*covers all in-county expenses, including water treatment business materials, food and lodging but not the flight to Ghana. Most Field Reps cover this fee through fundraising, grants, or scholarships, which we’d be happy to discuss with interested folks!

Questions? Check out our FAQs or email us. We can’t wait to meet you.

Saha builds better businesses!

This summer, Sahayili continued to work hard to make sure our water businesses are working well. One way we have approached this was by pursuing empowerment of all of our team to have a solid baseline of financial training. If we expect our entrepreneurs in the field to know how to set a price to the water they sell and the plan for the aquatabs they buy, we have to make sure we are sending monitors who are excellent with finances!

This was one of our first experience in conducting a full-staff training “in-house”. Overall, it was enjoyable and valuable and the team felt that it was definitely worth missing one day in the field to strengthen our own skills. Our training was a mixing pot of learning about core concepts, math, design, and general professional development, facilitated by our fearless math leaders Rhiana and Kathryn. But enough of the overview– let’s get into the details of the day!

The first part of our workshop dealt with this big question of “why do we set up water businesses” and we had a great conversation where staff was able to relay a deep understanding of how finances relate to sustainability. Staff shared out that business is important so that the women who run them can earn money and buy materials, cover the cost of the treatment process, and that by not just giving a Saha treatment center as a gift, we are actually empowering these women to have ownership of their water centers and motivating them to care for their own communities in a real and tangible way. Some may still need help from personal loans down the line with their finances, but hopefully this will kickstart positivity in their lives. We waded into the hard stuff and identified current challenges that our team is having, took a baseline quiz to see where we could all improve our understanding of Saha’s model, and ran example calculations of prices that we need to be able to do in the field.

For upcoming new Saha hires having a serious case of FOMO, have no fear! This session was so successful that we will continue to lay the same foundation with all new members of the Saha family.

After we thoroughly refreshed with some snacks and stretching, we did some math. We have to commend the staff members for sticking it out and doing something that was unfamiliar and rather long. They approached what could have been boring content with full excitement and were engaged the whole time. We did a “pair and share” method of doing some math calculations with a teammate because we all know there is strength in numbers and sometimes you just need to talk the problem out.

We ended the day with a really fun design challenge, addressing the question of how we improve our entrepreneur’s business skills when we meet with them to check in. We brainstormed and no ideas were off limits. We were encouraged to think about physical tools we could create, digital mockups, and acted out skits with our new ideas. We look forward to doing more exercises like these in the future!

  • Becky W.
  • Labariga Field Rep ’17, Saha Summer US Volunteer

Thank you Shak!

Shak on World Water Day 2010

Today we would like to highlight a special member of the Saha Family for his years of dedication and service with Saha: Ibrahim Shakool! Shak is leaving the Saha team after 9 years of amazing service. He has worked for Saha since 2009 and has help build our organization what it is today. We are so excited for Shak’s future endeavors and also want to take some time to share some of our favorite memories from the past 9 years.

In the early years at Saha, Shak did it all – from opening new water businesses to finding Saha’s first office in Tamale, to teaching us everything we needed to know about life in northern Ghana. Everyone in Tamale knows Shak and once someone figures out that you are a “friend of Shak” they will help you with anything. This is because Shak has helped so many people. He will do anything for his friends and family, and you become his friend the moment he meets you!

Throughout the years, Shak has really done a little bit of everything to help Saha. He started as a translator when we were a small but mighty team of 3 and quickly moved on to help implement and monitor villages on his own. He then helped to launch our solar program and became our resident solar expert. He was a translator for countless Global Leadership Programs and a favorite face for many Field Reps. For a short time he served as the Director of Ghana Operations while juggling full time monitoring! He would take on every task we asked of him and did his best to get it done. No task was too big for Shak.

Kate and Shak getting ready to great the 2015 Summer Field Reps

For many years, Shak would be the first face that our Field Reps would encounter as they exited the airport. His excitement and enthusiasm were infectious and the perfect introduction to the inviting hospitality of Ghanaian culture.  So many of our Field Reps say that Shak’s big, friendly smile made them feel right at home. From Dagbani lessons to leading lost field reps to opening a water center, his passion for the work he does always shines through.

 

This past year Shak has supported our new batch of monitors to grow and shine. He also opened 5 new water businesses, bringing clean water to almost 3,000 people. In between implementations, he would step in when we needed to visit piped villages, get a metal stand replaced, or monitor villages when when a colleague was sick.

Shak, fearlessly optimistic, as usual!

What are next steps for Shak? He is excited to see the new generation of Saha staff grow. Meanwhile he has grand plans of being a yellow-yellow driver and opening up his own restaurant in Tamale. We are trying to convince him to name the restaurant  “Shak’s Shak,” but it is still in the works.

To say that our team at Saha is like a family is an understatement. We care about each other as much as we care about the work that we do. The dedication that our term puts into their work is outstanding and an integral part in the success of any Saha Water Business. Shak will always be an important part of our Saha family!  Shak – Thank you for your years of service to Saha. You will be greatly missed and we know you are going to do great things!