My name is Jeremy Lakin and I’m originally from Reading, PA. After graduating from high school in Lancaster, PA I moved to NYC to attend NYU. I graduated in May 2015 with a BA in politics and Romance Languages. While I was lucky enough to be introduced to the water and sanitation through an internship at charity: water I really wanted to get first hand experience working with populations affected by a lack of access to clean drinking water. I found Saha on a whim when I was looking for jobs after college and immediately fell in love with Saha’s mission and model, particularly its dedication to monitoring.
I went with this past winter group in 2015-2016 and worked in a village called Futa, about 45 mins away from our home base in Tamale. One of the moments that I will never forget is visiting this one household a few days after we opened the clean water business. The woman that lived there told us that she recently had a visitor from Tamale visit her. When she offered him water he turned it down at first, but when she showed him she had clean, safe drinking water he was amazed. The smile on her face and the pride she expressed is something I’ll never forget. It really put the water crisis into new perspective for me. It isn’t just a health crisis, but a crisis of dignity and pride, and Saha addresses all of these needs.
I’m so grateful for this opportunity because it gave me invaluable field experience. All the reading and classwork can’t prepare you for being the first foreigner a child meets, or how to react when your polytank springs a leak. This experience affirmed my desire for a career in international development. I recently finished a six month internship with Global Health Corps. I’m a finalist for Global Health Corps’ highly selective fellowships and have been accepted to SIPA at Columbia thanks in great part to Saha Global.
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions about the Saha Global Leadership Program at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more about me and check in to see what I’m up to now here!
We are happy to report that, once again, 80% of our households had clean water in their safe storage containers. We are very excited about this number and look forward to seeing it increase further! This month, there were a number of communities with high water sales. These villages include: Nekpegu, Chihigu, Vogyili, Kagbal, Balomposo, Wambong, Galinkpegu, Kideng, Gidanturu, Futa and Komonaayili. We are especially impressed with Chihigu, Galinkpegu, Futa, and Kombonaayili because they were recently implemented this past winter. Two of our solar communitites, Chandanyili and Wambong, had high solar sales this month. Although they don’t currently have bank accounts, Sagbarigu, Chadanyili, Kpalguni, Gundaa, Namdu I and Namdu II plan on opening bank accounts very soon!
Although some communities have received rain, the following communities still have very low dugouts: Djelo, Buhijaa Tindan I, and Chandanyili. When the dugouts fill back up, women entrepreneurs are encouraged to inform their community that their centers are regularly running again. This month, Namdu II, Kuldanali, Manguli II, and Djelo had polytank issued that were fixed by our full time staff. Most polytank issues are leaks from the tap, which can be fixed with new parts or just glue and tape! Additionally, Gundaa’s solar center had a leak in the roof that had to be immediately fixed and Jangbarigiyili experienced loose wires after a storm that were fixed with the help of our full time staff. Sagbarigu informed Wahab that they were not given any spare batteries after implementation of their solar business. Businesses are given 10% extra batteries for their solar centers to use as others are charging. Wahab plans to bring these to the women entrepreneurs as soon as possible.
Today began with uncertainty… Last night we lay restless with the thought that our Poltyank water could be contaminated. On the ride to Futa today, we anxiously waited for Kathryn’s call to disclose the water tests. To our relief, the water was clean! Although we were one man down (feel better Jess!) we were so excited that opening day had finally arrived!!! We got to Futa and quickly realized the key to the Polytank was with our fallen team mate back at the guesthouse. Yet there was a solution: our translator TJ, a rock, and a screwdriver after much effort cracked it.
There was a buzz in Futa upon our arrival. Several women had sent their children ahead to queue up for the opening. Our three entrepreneurs, Fati, Mariama, and Sanatu, met us at the treatment center, ready to make their first sales. Quickly a line formed and it seemed all of Futa’s women were ready to claim their clean water with their safe storage containers in hand. We eagerly jotted down ever family that came to the center, remembering their households during the container distribution days.
Many women tried the water firsthand and loved the taste, comparing it to sachet water locally found in town. The transformation from mucky dugout water to clear, safe drinking water was amazing. In order to celebrate the success of the center and the water’s outcome, many laughs were had and there was even a dance off between Jeremy and Fati (Fati clearly won). Out of the 32 households, 27 were present at the center. Fati, Mariama, and Sanatu did a wonderful job running their business and were beyond thrilled to be providing their community with clean drinking water.
To finish off the day, a few egg and bread sandwiches were in order to commemorate the business’ opening. Now for some Fanmilk and much needed naps! More to come, stay tuned…