After a long journey up to Tamale, the fellows jumped right into orientation where they learned the nitty gritty about the global water crisis, water and disease, water interventions, and then finally about CWS! It was information packed morning with some great discussions. After lunch the fellows were sent off on a scavenger hunt around Tamale! No better way to get thrown into the hussle and bussle of the town! Two hours in the market, a collection of things and bundle of stories it was time to retire from the day! The next day held an adventure in the bush!
Our morning started off a bit delayed, but with lunches packed we were off for a full day to visit Chongashe and Chani’s water treatment centers! It was only a minute after our arrival in Chongashe that Chelsea started up a game with all the kids! After some translation and help from Shak, Chelsea had a large group of kids playing Nu, Nu, Bong– Translated to English: Chicken, Chicken, Guinea Fowl a Ghanian rendition of Duck, Duck, Goose.
We then went to their dugout to collect water to do the fellow alum training the following day. Next stop was Chani for a quick stop off for another dugout sample! It was a long and hot day in the field but nice to get out and see CWS in action!
The countdown until the start of the 2011 Summer Fellowship Program is officially in single digits! The Fellowship Leaders arrive in Tamale on Sunday and the Fellows are just a few days behind them. We can’t wait!
This week I finished up my visits to all of the CWS villages,tagging along with Shak and Peter as they checked-up on Nyamaliga, Chongashe and Gbong.
This week I also met with Unicef and a representative from the Central Gonja District Assembly who updated me on our Unicef-CWS villages, Kampong, Alipe, Mile 40, Gilanzegu, and Nyanguripe. One of Unicef’s goals in partnering with us and the Central Gonja District was to “build the capacity of the local government”. One way that we have tried to do this was to pass on the monitoring of these water businesses to the District Assembly. Handing over this responsibility to the government has been challenging for CWS because we are very invested in our communities and like to know that the water businesses are succeeding. We have learned a lot over the past three years about how to successfully monitor our businesses and are used to being the ones in control! Despite these challenges, we recognize the importance of engaging the local government and are glad that Unicef has been able to facilitate this partnership. The District reported that for the most part, these 5 villages are doing well. The few problems that they are experiencing are all things that CWS has dealt with before and we hope to help the District solve them over the next few months. A big thanks to Gerry and Judy O’Connell, the Medfield Fit Girls, The Nolan’s, The Reids, and CWS Facebook Causes Team for sponsoring these villages – I’ll hopefully have some new pictures from them shortly!
If you have been reading our “voices from the field” series, than you have gotten a small glimpse of the everyday work that our 2011 Winter Fellows completed during their time here in Ghana. You’ve seen how they built polytank stands, danced with the children in their villages, distributed safe storage containers, held village meetings, performed water quality testing in the lab, trained local women how to make water from their local sources safe to drink, and even sampled some traditional Ghanaian food!
The day-to-day work is fun, but sometimes slow; exciting, but often exhausting, and sometimes, its easy to get lost in all of the small details of the project. Looking back over the past 5 weeks, the bottom line is this: the 2011 Winter Fellows provided permanent sources of safe drinking water for over 4,200 people! That is pretty amazing!
Of course none of the Fellows’ work could have been possible without your support! We’d like to thank all of the parents, teachers, friends, neighbors, churches, community groups, local businesses and everyone else who supported the 2011 Winter Fellows – without all of you, the fellowship teams could not have made such an amazing impact during their time in Ghana! THANK YOU!
Saturday was the big day for Team 7! We finally opened our CWS water treatment center in Chongashe! The other two teams opened yesterday so we were anxious to finally see ours in action and it was a HUGE SUCCESS!!! Every household in the village eventually came to collect water.
We set our alarms for 5:30AM so that we could get to our village, which is almost two hours away, in time for early morning water collection. We think that it was the first time this whole month that we’ve actually left on time – “Ghanaian time” is usually at least half an hour behind schedule. We were on the road before 6 AM even though Rachel slept through her alarm and Sanita had to wake her up…
After days of dreaming about it, we finally stopped at a food stand for egg-bread sandwiches to get a protein boost before the big morning!
We arrived in Chongashe and greeted our welcoming committee, AKA a group of 50 children who swarm our truck jumping and clapping whenever we drive in. People brought out drums and we all headed towards the center, the truck loaded with kids and buckets to be filled with water.
Once we got to the center, we still needed to scoop some water from the blue drums and add Aquatabs to the polytank so that we would have as much clean water as possible. Mata and Wasseela, the two women who we had trained to run the center, handled the process as if they had been running it for years. After emptying the blue drums they filled them up immediately and were quick to stir in the alum too. It was great to see that our training sessions were so effective!
While we waited for the chlorine in the Aquatabs to kick in, the crowd of women holding their new safe storage containers grew and grew! TJ entertained everyone with his awesome drumming, and the music led to a big dance party giving us a taste of traditional dancing!
By the time the center was ready to open, there were already forty buckets ready to be filled. We were so excited by the big turnout! Since we had distributed our safe storage containers in large groups, we were worried that our message hadn’t gotten across to everyone, so it was very encouraging when so many people in the community turned out over the next few hours. Many families even brought cups to wash out so that they would have designated drinking cups that wouldn’t re-contaminate their new clean water.
The long line of buckets got hectic at times, but we reassured the ladies that it wouldn’t always be so crazy. There was also some confusion about which bucket was whose and a few problems with leaky buckets, but it all got sorted out in the end. Within a few hours all of the buckets were filled and we were proud that all of our hard work setting up the water treatment center paid off!
The next day we had a day off, so Rachel, Sanita and Eleanor went with TJ and Wahab to the Kintampo Falls for a relaxing and awesome morning.
Then we hurried back to Tamale to finally catch a soccer game in the Stadium. We’ve been waiting all session to see a game there – and even though it took us until half time to figure out which team was Tamale, we were still pumped about the experience.