On Wednesday night, our team had our opening night for our solar business. We were so excited to finally get our village’s business up and running after two weeks of building and preparing. When we arrived a couple hours before sunset, we had a few glitches to work out and quickly dealt with the issues with our entrepreneurs Mazara and Adam. Once all 69 batteries were charged we were ready to officially begin. So many people from the village came out and gathered around to receive their batteries and charge their phones.
It was during opening night that we truly realized the impact of our work. The loud cheering of the children as their mom switched one setting of brightness after another brought only more excitement. Walking around the village, we saw how much the new lanterns we provided really improved their lives. Those using their old lanterns and flashlights did not shine as bright as the ones we have provided. It was also less convenient to use as it usually required another person to hold the light.
As more people came to rent batteries, one by one, each compound became lit and vibrant. Sounds from afar in the serene village night were the women pounding fufu and the cracking sound from the fires in the lighted compound. Even though we had a rough start, the overall opening night was very successful. Our team was able to work with our entrepreneurs and quickly fix the problem. As a result, 18 people came out of 23 compounds and 5 people got their phones charged. Our team is so happy to have been able to bring this important resource to the village.
“Despa” from Team Shak! After two weeks of implementing our solar business and distributing lanterns to the village of Namdu 2, we had our opening night on June 23rd! Every household had received lanterns and had been trained on how to best use them earlier this week, but no batteries were available to be rented until opening night. In accordance with the Saha Motto, “Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong” we
arrived half an hour late to our village after losing Andrew while searching for coins; but we were on time according to Ghanaian time. And don’t worry, we found Andrew!
After four days of training, Wumbe, Rabi, and Fuseina were well equipped to run the business. Rabi and Fuseina are the water entrepreneurs, while Wumbe was chosen by the village because of her enthusiasm in helping to build the center. The women rented the batteries for 10 pesowas each, after changing the price to match the pricing in Namdu 1 so that one village does not lose business to the other.
People from the village were already lined up with their lanterns waiting for us so that they could rent their batteries. 41 of the 44 households in our village showed up to receive batteries. As soon as the window was opened, a steady stream of lanterns were shoved through by the eager community members. It took a small amount of time for the women to establish a rhythm of giving batteries, recording in the sales book, and exchanging money. However, the business was on fire, and in the end the women “killed it.” Everyone was super excited about their lanterns and wanted their pictures taken with the light illuminating their faces. All the customers who stopped by the charging station that night ended up walking away satisfied.
Terry, Mary, Kerry, Anne and Shak make up Saha’s Solar Center Project Team Shak! Due to “life and so it goes”, Kerry and Mary were unable to make the trip despite their successful contribution of considerable funds, and so they are very much with us in spirit here every day.
We have been assigned the village of Nekpegu which is about an hour and a half away from Tamale; The chief and elders were quite anxious to meet with us. The women entrepreneurs have successfully managed a Saha Water Treatment Center since 2013 and were happy to tell us about the positive effects on their health. The chief’s son had seen Saha’s Solar Center in another village and was sharing his experience with the chief and elders. The Chief mentioned that it would be helpful for the children to study and for their night school, and offered the cooperation and assistance of the entire community.
The construction of the Solar Center took a couple of days, the equipment was delivered and the training of the women could begin. The village chose the two women who are currently running the water business, Ramatu and Fati, to manage the solar business as well. They learned how to hook up the power convertor, do some troubleshooting and how to manage the sales they will make from their new business. Lanterns were distributed household to household and we are now ready for Opening Night!
At our every step, there are thirty little steps behind us with smiling faces…
Shak is our translator, but he is also project manager, carpenter, navigator, “fixer of everything” and now, friend.
It’s been a long road all the way to Tamale, but we made it here and accomplished what we set out to do. Team Wahab did it! Leah, Logan, Alfonso and Wahab built the water treatment facility in the village of Gburma and trained four women from the village, Afishetu, Amata, Salamatu, and Chokopa. The women were taught how to use the alum to make the turbid water clear and how to use the chlorine tabs in the Polytank to kill the bacteria and further purify the water. Afterward, we went around the households in the village and handed out the Safe Storage Water Containers explaining how to use them for clean water storage and how to keep them uncontaminated. The entire village is so involved, excited and committed to having clean drinking water.
Everyone from the children to the elders wants to make use of the Safe Storage Containers and improve their health by drinking the clean water. They all couldn’t wait to taste the water and were so surprised at how good and clean it tasted on opening day. They constantly thanked us for providing them with clean water and their enthusiasm was palpable.
There is no better feeling than turning dirty, bacteria infested water into clean drinkable water that will improve the village’s health and longevity. Being a part of this project with Saha Global has truly been a life-changing experience that will stay with us forever.
Hey everyone! Robert, Sofia, Claire, and Phoebe here – along with our aptly named translator, Blessing! The village Team Blessing was assigned has smiling faces and warm hearts like all CWS selections, but the unique history sets it apart. Team Blessing’s village, Original Kabache, has an ongoing feud with their neighboring village, Indigenous Kabache. From what we understand, Kabache was once a unified community, but in recent years has split in two – each community striving for Kabache as the village name. Both villages claim that they are the true Kabache; both chieftaincies claim to be the first Kabache. In 2013, CWS implemented a clean water business in Original Kabache’s rival village, which we can only imagine brewed tension. The feud is neither here nor there; Team Blessing came to implement a clean water business. Our goal was realized just 20 some hours ago!
Prior to our first village visit, our team was briefed on three aspects of Original Kabache: it was a community of ~60 households, community members fetched water from a dugout ~2km from the center of the village, and of course the intra-Kabache-naming-feud. We petitioned the village chairman to hold a meeting with the Chief and village elders to discuss the CWS proposal to implement a clean water business, and minutes later were walked to the chief’s compound. The meeting began riddled with tension punctuated by the sounds of children playing and chickens mulling about. Once all the elders had gathered, the discussion lightened and we were met by overwhelming support and gratitude from the chief and elders of Original Kabache. Throughout our time in the village, the chief has provided positive support and clearly forward-thinking wisdom at each juncture. He genuinely wants to set a positive, sustainable and longstanding example for his people for, as he said, “generations to come.” The chief was also very excited about having clean water because he didn’t like that Indigenous Kabache had access to clean water and they didn’t. He believed that with the implementation of the water business they would once again be the best Kabache. Our careful, yet excited nods of approval were satisfactory.
Following our chief meeting, we invited any elders to accompany us on the 25-minute walk to the dugout to test the water for E-coli bacteria. With a water sample, we could incubate E-coli and total coliform bacteria on special 3M agar to provide a visual representation of dugout contamination in order to show the community when we met with them the following day. Thankfully, our community meeting was an inspiring success; almost all members of the community were present, attentive, and excited to begin working with CWS to create their own clean water. As asked, the chief and elders selected two driven, strong, and personable women entrepreneurs to run the center. Later, on the chief appointed a third woman since one of the original two was pregnant and might need to take some time off after giving birth.
The CWS model stresses a few key tenants in order to promote sustainability in the water businesses, of which two are female empowerment and autonomy. The women entrepreneurs of Original Kabache decided to sell the water for 10 GP (~$0.03) per 10 liter bucket, aspiring to match the price of Indigenous Kabache. For several days following our introduction to the entrepreneurs, our team worked long days to build the water treatment center, train the women on business management skills and water treatment procedures, and take time explaining clean water procedures to almost every member of every household in Original Kabache.
Come Thursday morning – our opening day for business – we could honestly say that nearly all of the work and decisions in Original Kabache had been smooth, exciting, and inspiring. Of course, “this is going GREAT” are famous last words, and as we’d been warned during our initial training, “Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” For starters, our team was not on it’s “A-Game” – Sofia had previously missed two days with a stomach bug, Rob had missed the previous day with the same, and Phoebe and Claire later found that they were on the cusp of illness themselves. The morning consisted of a few final home visits, followed by a school visit in an attempt to separately capture the attention of the children and prep them on safe drinking habits. “School” is a loose term in Original Kabache – more often used as a word of reprimand or as a command analogous to “get out of here,” we were shocked to see that the 6 classroom school really functioned as a one room schoolhouse. That being said, our visit was successful and the children seemed to take to heart the two lessons: “Clear doesn’t necessary mean clean” and “DON’T DRINK THE DUGOUT WATER!”
By midday, we ran into our first real roadblock – our strongest and most punctual women entrepreneur was “out traveling” for the day. Furthermore, a wedding had been scheduled for the same hour as the business opening, a problem compounded by the surprise that the entrepreneurs had neglected to make an official community announcement when opening day would be. Scrambling quickly, the chief helped make an announcement – a drummer boy clanged down the road, and within a matter of minutes, women, children, and safe storage containers emerged from houses and huts. Opening day would happen after all.
The walk to the treatment center was euphoric – down the footpath we could see silhouettes of the CWS logo, women balancing the safe storage containers on their heads. In total, ~40 buckets were cleaned and filled with treated water. Some women were pleased with the taste of chlorinated water; others thought it strange. Rob tried to grab as many costumers who expressed discomfort and explain that the unusual taste was just a clean taste – a conversation most often met with a smile, excitement, and even a few laughing slaps and handshakes.
Following our debrief session with our strong entrepreneurs, the fellows were unusually tired; Phoebe was showing a loss of color from possible heat exhaustion. It wasn’t until a reunion with the other Salaga fellows from Sabonjida that the Original Kabache Team Blessing could properly stand back, admire the hard work of the people of Original Kabache, and take a moment to pat each other on the back for successfully bringing clean water to the homes of another 52 households under the CWS program.
For the past couple of weeks we have been working in a village called Manguli II (don’t forget the II). After spending time training our three elected entrepreneurs, Moshi, Sharatu, and Latifa, we finally opened their water business this morning! We planned to start at 10 o’clock but the day got off to a slow start which worried us a little bit. Forty five minutes later however, we saw people approaching the center with their blue buckets in hand. There were about 6 people who all arrived at once so we quickly informed them of how it would all pan out.They would first mark their buckets with their family name, then wash them and after that they would be ready to buy some clean water! The first sale made was to buy water for cleaning the safe storage container which was really exciting for both us and the women. Danya was in charge of marking buckets, Ana handled the cleaning process and Remy took charge whenever we came upon a leaky tap. Our translator, Simplicia aka Simply, played many roles as she tried to clean and translate all at once. Although the first to show came in a bit of a cluster, the rest of the day was pretty steady with people showing up one after another. At the end of the day, the women counted their sales and found that they filled 30 safe storage containers which amounted to a profit of 3 Ghanaian Cedis! Only three households in the community did not come to fetch water but it was only because they were traveling and are expected to come to the business as soon as they come back.
After two weeks of hard work, opening day showed how it all paid off. The process of bringing clean water to people in need is much more difficult than it seems. We definitely ran into a few speed bumps throughout the entire training and implementation process but after speaking with people and understanding their knowledge on the issue, it helped to bring us to our outcome today. We could see that the people who once seemed skeptical of our work were actually excited when they tasted the water and it was truly an amazing experience to watch. We really look forward to watching how everything plays out from here on and seeing how much of an impact our work has made on the people of Manguli II.
Greetings from Emily, Sara, Thalia and Alex aka team TJ!! TJ is our friend and translator, also known as T to the J, Teeg, or 2Chainz. For the past two weeks we have been implementing a shared water treatment center that will serve Kuldanali, a village of 58 households and Yapalsi, a smaller village of 25 households. Both use the Volta River as their water source, which we have found to be contaminated with E. coli among other things. Our two most recent visits to the two villages have been for opening day as well as the first day of monitoring.
Our opening day, in which water sales officially began, was a huge success. With over a 90% household turnout it was clear that the two villages were excited about their new access to clean water. The day began as we viewed the first group of women walk down the hill towards the treatment center with their staple CWS blue buckets. It was encouraging for us to see their excitement in the impending purchase of clean water. The enthusiasm spread across generations—middle-aged mothers arrived confidently balancing the safe storage containers on their heads and small girls ran down with multiple buckets. We were extremely impressed by the confidence in our three women entrepreneurs – Florence and Akweeya from Kuldanali and Adamoo from Yapalsi. The day began somewhat hectically as this was their first day as business owners. While it was somewhat chaotic for the initial sales, the women entrepreneurs quickly organized the process along with the assistance of the young girls who washed the safe storage containers. From then on the business owners meshed together as they successfully distributed the day’s worth of buckets.
We were thankful to have our first day off after our opening day! We ventured to the Fuller Waterfalls with TJ and attended a lively concert in the evening.
We were enthusiastically greeted by our women entrepreneurs upon arriving at the water center—this was easily the most excitement we have seen from them so far. Our team got a strong sense that the women were taking ownership of the center. As we asked them questions about their sales they beamed and seemed confident about the future of their business. After visiting the center, we started our first day of monitoring. We visited 13 households, all of which were using the safe storage container correctly and were enthused about their access to clean water. As we monitored, there were a few leaky buckets between the two villages but they were quick fixes by TJ. It was fun to chat with each household and ask them about what they thought of the taste of their new water.
Yesterday was opening day for CWS’s new water treatment center in Chandanyili. Several Fulani women (a nomadic group from Mali and Nigeria) were the first to arrive at the center near the dugout. The two entrepreneurs, Abiba and Zaharawu, were excited to begin filling safe storage containers and began right away. At first, only ten or so households arrived, but before we knew it, a large crowd formed near the Polytank, all ready to fill their buckets with safe, clean drinking water. Bimala helped several women clean their safe storage containers with soap and clean water from the Polytank before filling up, while Rachael and Anna helped record the number of customers at the center, and Jenna and Wahab distributed the last few safe storage containers on the list. Since some of the Fulani women don’t speak Dagbani, Jenna and Wahab worked to triple- and quadruple-translate the proper way to use each safe storage container.
Excitement amongst the women grew as the first few safe storage containers were filled with clear, clean water. Several women filled their lids with clean water and passed it around to get a taste. Abiba and Zaharawu quickly got into a rhythm – one would fill safe storage containers while another collected money and helped others lift the buckets to carry on their heads. After three hours of successful clean water distribution, the Polytank was empty and we counted our sales. We filled 64 (of 67) safe storage containers! We can’t wait to check in on each household and see how they like the water next week!