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

Voices from the Field: Team Shiraz in Dasana Kuraa

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.

Team Shiraz and community members from Dasana Kuraa after a hard day’s work!


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.

Jonell in the PT
Amina adding ash (an active ingredient in soap) to the drums during the cleaning process.



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.

Nima loading the drums with water from the dugout.


Nima giving the alum a big stir. (Algae was filtered during the scooping process).


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.


All hands on deck for Distribution Day


Jonell and Shiraz explaining the results from the 3M test during Distribution Day.


We’re looking forward to another day of distribution with the Fulani tomorrow. We are feeling ready and excited for opening day on Tuesday!

Voices from the Field: Team Bangaham in Chanaya

Kawula! (What’s up?) We’re team Bangaham – Amanda, Olivia, Quinn, Mitch, and Bangaham (our translator and so much more) and we started working with the village of Chanaya this week! To build a relationship with our village, we met with an elder in the community because the village Chief was in Accra during our arrival. After getting the elder’s approval to work with the community, we gathered with the whole community to discuss the Saha Global method the following day.

We arrived at the village around 1 PM, just in time to meet with the whole community as they wrapped up afternoon prayers. Community members gradually trickled over to where we were standing in the shade, and the children scurried to grab benches for us to sit under a group of trees. It was exciting to see the whole village come together, including the Fulani – a nomadic ethnic group. In most cases, the Fulani people do not integrate with an established community since they are a different ethnic group. However, the elder and our translator explained that although the Fulani people live separately from the villagers, they have shared the same water source for years and have become socially integrated.

The meeting began with our team asking the community what they thought of their water. The consensus was that they all knew the water was dirty, but they were uncertain as to why. After explaining why the dugout water is unsafe to drink, we opened it up for questions about the process. To give a visual of what the center would look like, we showed them pictures from other Saha villages. Everyone in the community was engaged and excited to learn about the project!

Bangaham Elders

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:

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:


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. The use of first aid kits is important and can help save someone’s life.

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.


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:

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!