We safely arrived in Tamale early last week after a long 12-hour bus ride that turned into a 24-hour ride when our bus broke down near Kumasi. After a couple of orientation days learning more about solar energy and the Ghanaian culture we were ready to take to the field to see it first hand. We got to experience our first community in a place that already had solar power that Saha Global implemented in order to ask questions and see how it was being run. After this we were able to go out and monitor other communities as well. It was great to see how the solar centers had such a positive impact on all of the communities.
It was a very exciting day when we found out our teams and communities in which we would be working for the next two weeks. Our team has had a great time together and it is so much fun getting to know everyone better considering we all come from such different places, and have different personalities. Our team consist of Haley, Emily, Trey, and Bridget along with our translator, Shak.
Another really exciting thing for us is how awesome our village, Kushini, is. We had a meeting with the chief to pitch our idea of building a solar center. He was so excited about it and they couldn’t wait to help us start with the construction. The next day when we went back, instead of doing the traditional route of building an entirely new building, the village donated a building to us that was not being used anymore. So instead of taking time to build a new one we are using the time and resources to fix up the great building they already have.
Even though this isn’t the stereotypical procedure for building a solar center we are so happy that we are able to use this building in the community. We will be painting the building in the next couple of days and then will start training the women on the solar equipment.
Sana was born in Wulensi. She went to live with her aunty in Kushini when she was a small kid. She then grew up and got married there. Sana has given birth to three kids, two girls and a boy.
In the Summer of 2011, Field Reps Hudson, Sharifa, Chris and Ianthe implemented a water treatment center in Kushini. At that time Sana was selected as the water business entrepreneur and has been running the center there for four years. Along side running the water business Sana makes and sells charcoal. “I am always glad to see people going home from the center with safe clean drinking water,” said Sana, “It makes me really happy to make sales and treat water for my community.”
The rainy season has begun here in Northern Ghana! This means a lot of things for village life:
Villager’s days, (storms permitting), are comparatively busier than during the dry season.
Shea nuts were collected and dried before the rains started, and now many afternoons are spent churning this delicious-smelling paste by hand.
It is incredible how fast things grow now, and the villages are almost unrecognizable for those of us who remember them from January. TJ and I actually got lost on the way to Kushini’s dugout because the grasses had grown so much since our last visit. Good thing we were able to snag Nash here as a guide!
Traditionally during the rainy season, many villagers switch over to rainwater collection so they don’t have to mess with turbid dugout water. In villages with lots of tin roofs, like Yipela, Cheko, Kpalbusi, Gidanturu, and even Tacpuli or Kushini, this means that people are able to use their safe storage containers to capture funneled rainwater. However, in other villages, like Zanzugu-Yipela, Gbateni or Kpalguni, there aren’t enough tin roofs to go around, so many people still rely on the center for drinking water. Needless to say this is a difficult time for monitoring, as some centers remain almost empty (settled blue drums standing by should scooping be necessary) while others deal with even higher demands (Wambong villagers seem to drink even more when it rains). It is also the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, so people aren’t drinking during the day anyway. Lastly, CWS suggestions about healthy rainwater collection take a while to reach every house, so we often find a few empty buckets whose owners weren’t aware that they could use their containers for saa khom (rainwater). This all sounds a bit complicated, but household visits help us feel out village patterns and make it easier to go with the flow. To see how the rain impacted center operations in your favorite villages, check out ghanawaters.crowdmap.com at the end of the month!
As for Shak, TJ, Peter, Wahab and myself, we are just happy when we wake up to roads dry enough to get out of town and into the field!
Due to some technical difficulties this post is a few days late, but here is team 2 (“nothing but net”)’s story about training the women in Kushini to prepare for opening day (which happened on Thursday!)
Today, we performed our second day of training for the women. To this point, they have already fetched the water from the dugout and have used allum to separate the dirt from the water. Today, they moved the separated water into the polytank and added aquatabs (chlorine) to kill the bacteria and other harmful agents in the water. The women are not only exceptionally responsible, but catch on to the training extremely quickly. Often before we could finish explaining the process to them they were able to finish our sentences. After preparing the water in the polytank, they also refilled the blue drums and treated them with allum so that we could have even more clean water for tomorrow’s opening day.
We also performed our final round of distributing clean water storage buckets for households in the village. When we first arrived to the village it was monsooning (of course, we forgot our rain coats at home), but once the rain cleared the entire village was able to gather and be trained on the proper water safety requirements for the clean water buckets. Sharifa spent a lot of time giving advice to the women (with Shak translating) while Hudson, Chris, and Ianthe worked quickly to assemble buckets for the masses. Training the women was a detailed process – Sharifa went over everything from how and where to get clean water to proper placement of the buckets in the home to how to respond to contaminations. The women took the process very seriously and echoed what the Chief had already told us: “We know that the dugout water is unhealthy, but we have no other option for drinking water.” In all the experience was really touching to see how seriously the village is taking this process and we’re really excited for opening day tomorrow!