CWS on the Road: US Edition Part 2


**First, our apologies to our email subscribers for filling your inboxes yesterday! We recently switched back to using wordpress for our blog and needed to transfer over all the posts from the past couple of months. Everything should be all set now!***

Its that time of year again! CWS is hitting the road to recruit for our Summer Fellowship Program (apps due March 15th, APPLY HERE!) This year, we’re doing things a little bit differently, focusing on career/internship fairs instead of info sessions. Check out our schedule below and if you’re in the area, come on by our booth and chat with us! Don’t see your school listed an want to learn? Email Sam ( and we’ll try to schedule info session for you!

CWS On the Road

January 24th: Boston College Internship Fair

January 31st: NorthEastern Internship Fair

February 13th: University of Rochester Spring Career and Internship Day

February 15th: Princeton Non-Profit Career Fair

February 20th: Brown/RISD Non-Profit Career Fair and the UMASS Amherst Career Blast

February 22nd: Georgetown Government and Non-Profit Expo

February 26th: BU School of Public Health Career Fair

March 5th: Harvard School of Public Health Spring Career Fair

March 7th: John Hopkins Spring Career Fair

March 8th: Tufts Spring Career Fair

March 8th: Columbia Spring Career Fair

Voices from the Field: Team E (Linda, Vanesa, Alexa and Julia)

Team E (Linda, Vanessa, Alexa, and Julia) has spent the past week in Nekpegu, a small village of 26 households.

Prior to opening day, we had met with the chief and whole community and distributed 26 buckets to all the households. After only an hour on opening day, all buckets had been filled at the center. Our two women, Fatima and Ramatu, had made a profit of over two cedis—which is more than a weekly income for most people in rural Ghana.

What was best for us was really watching the women take charge, and see the village’s excitement. When the chief arrived at the polytank Ramatu was so eager to have him take the first drink from the tap. (The photo of him smiling is when he was asked what it tasted like… I thought it tasted pretty good, too.) The second they turned the knob and saw the crisp clean water, the whole line of 15 women and children started clapping.

During the first training session we had with Ramatu and Fatima, which Julia helped lead, Ramatu modestly accepted Julia’s notebook and pen and explained with a smile that she could not write. Seeing her pose with her notebook and pen, after learning how to tally the people who arrived, gave light to the empowerment that the CWS model brings to the women of these villages.

The next day, the polytank was empty and our women were enthusiastic to start round two and scoop their blue drums into the tank for treatment. On our last days we get to monitor and hear back from our households on how the center is working for them (and mostly just how the water tastes.) We will also be spending a day at the small school in our village and we are excited to get to help start the education process with our children—because, as our chief said to us, the kids will help enlighten them.


Lexi Lee

Voices from the Field: Team D (Urooj, Casey and Ty)

Blog4Welcome to Kalinka! A beautiful village tucked in the northern region of Ghana, home to over 300 people. Our team is small: Casey, Ty, and me. Our goal is big, to implement safe, clean, and healthy water for Kalinka. Our process is simple but layered. Here we present a day in our journey, we hope you enjoy! It all began at sunset.

We awoke bright and early to begin our hour and a half drive to Kalinka, situated beyond the lull of the city, beyond a maze of potholes and dusty roads. As we waited for out trusty translator to come pick us up, we realized we were on American time and our translator T.J, was on Ghanaian time. Nonetheless, T.J arrived with our taxi, we all piled in the backseat, squashed together like a pair of sardines, a prerequisite of such closeness is you get to know your teammates very well. As we were discussing exciting anecdotes of our past and hopes and aspirations for our future, we were pulled over by the police. We handled it like pros, that is to say we kept our mouths shut and allowed the experts, our translator and driver, to handle the situation. After what seemed like hours, T.J informed us that our driver’s license had been seized by the police, much to his and our disappointment.

Despite the inconvenience we marched on, we arrived at Kalinka behind our scheduled time, but on village time. Once there, we finished day two of our training. Casey took lead, instructing the women on how to scoop the clear water into the polytank prior to chlorination. T.J and Ty excelled at handling the large polytank and making sure it was in top operating condition. I distracted the little ones with my camera and generally took pictures of everyone in awkward situations. One exciting moment was when Casey successfully balanced a scooping bucket on her head in an attempt to understand and emulate the difficulties of the women slugging water weight day in and out.

Blog1After finishing our water treatment duties, we commenced the community outreach portion. We returned to the village center and began to assembly the safe storage containers (picture on the left). Here you can see how passionate and ardent we were about assembling the containers correctly (Casey, T.J, and Ty were so intent on the task they didn’t even look up when I snapped a picture of them). Afterwards the women assembled in clusters and we all gave them a pitch about harnessing the power of clean water and using it to improve their quality of life. The women assembled, participated in the process with gusto, and hit on all the key points. Some concerns that arose in this process were access to extra containers for larger families and the water treatment process. Here I glow with pride, as my team handled all the questions very very well. We were hot, tired, thirsty, but we had a sheen (and no this was not from the red dust but a glimmer of pride at what we had cultivated in this village: a relationship).

Tomorrow the fruits of over labor will be evident, as tomorrow is our opening day. We are extremely excited and looking toward the future, and expecting smooth sailing all the way


Voices from the Field: Team F (Saja, Chris, Rachel and Corrine)

Chief and elders inside the grand room where the meeting took place

An hour and a half drive along the rough and dusty roads to the northwest of Tamale lies the village of Kasuliyili. With around 400 households (estimating about 3,500 people), and education-levels ranging from elementary to high school, some electricity, and a dugout the size of a lake, this village holds the title as the largest that Community Water Solutions has ever had the opportunity to work with.

Team F with the chief and elders (pic taken by a kid, hence the heads cut off)

The grandness of the village made it somewhat difficult to believe that they did not already have access to clean drinking water, but the results of the test of the dugout water in Kasuliyili – rife with E. Coli and Coliform – were testament to the fact that we a had a tremendous challenge ahead. We rolled up our sleeves, layered on the bug spray and prepared for the weeks ahead!

Today we had the honor of meeting with the village chief, who is an educator and nothing short of a visionary for his community. Our team met with “Chief Patience Moves Mountains” (awesome name, right?), the village elders, the women leaders and other community members. Collectively, we discussed the different aspects of the CWS concept. We covered the importance of healthy drinking water, the building of the water treatment center, the training process with the women to run the business, educating the children in the community, and the ongoing monitoring of the business.

DSCN2944After laying out the details and answering the questions from the elders and community members, it was now the chief’s time to speak. When he told us how important access to healthy water was for the village and accepted our offer to help, we couldn’t help but be heartened by his comments. When he gifted us yams and a Guinea Fowl, we were even more moved.

Before arriving in Ghana for the fellowship, we each knew that we would meet with the chief and elders about bringing clean water to their village, but we did not know how amazing and important this would be. After the meeting, we asked our translator and longtime CWS employee, Peter, what he would write in the blog post if he had the chance. His response was simple: “it was the best chief meeting I have ever had.”

We are incredibly excited to be a part of such an incredible project in Kasuliyili, helping to move forward Chief Patience Moves Mountain’s mission to bring good health to village over the next two weeks.

-Saja, Chris, Rachel & Corrine

Voices from the Field: Team A (Jordan, Josh, Kara and Lindsay)

Jordan, Kara, and Josh building their Polytank stand

The A Team, minus Lindsay who was feeling under the weather (but is back in the field today!), started building the treatment center today in our village called Bogu (pronounced something like “Bwauw”)! Our village has 40 households and two different dugouts. Their main and closer dugout dries out during the dry season. There is a school in the village, which we’ve not yet seen open, but some of the villagers speak a little bit of English.

Lindsay (and translator Mohammed in red jacket)carrying water on her head.

The busy morning consisted of us picking up a whole drum of sea sand and making a detour into villages alongside the road to avoid the massive speed rounds. Half of our bricks were already in the village, along with our cement. Bricks, here, mean cement blocks by the way (made of sand)! Our taxi driver, Hustler, got the other half of our bricks while we started building. We cleared an area in the center of town near the chief’s hut and our mason mixed the cement, sand, and dugout water together to make the mortar. The men of the village did most of the work on the construction, while we “supervised” the children.

Josh and Jordan playing duck duck goose with Bogu’s kids.

We played football (soccer) with the kids for a long time, teaching them tricks and learning tricks from them. We also taught them duck-duck-goose which they pronounce “dush, dush, goosh.” The picture on the left is of Jordan and Josh playing that game with kids. We tried to teach them to play rock, paper, scissors, which didn’t work out so well! They tried to teach us a game where you jump, clap, and kick at the same time, and we’re going to have to work on our rhythm before we master that one.

Kara holding the dead bunny

Some of the kids got a fruit from a nearby tree, which we think is called a Bauba tree. Of course, we tried it! It had a sort of sweet taste but very dry. They also happened to find a dead bunny which our translator Mohammed made all of us hold, not excluding the vegetarian, Jordan. She was forced. Kara was captured looking not too happy in a photo in this post. We’re also learning to carry buckets for water to the dugout on our heads.

We are all very excited for the rest of our time in the village to start training the women and distributing the safe storage containers to the community!

– Jordan, Josh, Kara, and Lindsay




First Approaches to Villages

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Saja, Rachel, and Corrine, from Team F, labeling their lab samples

On Wednesday, the fellows traveled to previously implemented CWS villages to practice household monitoring with their translators. It was the first time fellows entered the homes of the people and had one on one interactions. The visit also enabled them to see the successes of CWS; most of the households possessed clean water in their safe storage container and explained how happy they were to have clean water!

Emily, Sarah, Priya, and Lauren, from Team C, preparing their samples.
Emily, Sarah, Priya, and Lauren, from Team C, preparing their samples.

In the afternoon, the fellows practiced their chief meetings with their translators. This meeting is the most important step in the CWS implementation process, because in many villages this is meeting will be the first time that they have heard of our organization! We make sure teams have plenty of time to review the CWS pitch before this meeting and practice working through a translator.

The fellows also completed lab rotations to learn to use our lab equipment. The fellows practiced working in the lab by tested the water they collected during household monitoring. We have already seen similar equipment on SciQuip but have never actually got our hands on it. So far our water testing lab allows us to measure the bacteria in the water – both from individual households and the village water source – quite well. Though it might be good if we could get more modern equipment. Something like a digital microscope could demonstrate whole class visualisations safely when other newcomers are learning to use the equipment. It could also speed up the time taken to test the water. But what they have so far is good enough.

Today, the fellows all visited their villages for the first time! All of them had success when speaking with the chief and the elders. Some will return tomorrow for an official chief meeting, while others will return for a community meeting! The fellows are super psyched to get working in the field and bring clean drinking water to 7 new villages in Ghana!



Lots and Lots of Bonding

Alexa, Linda, Julia, and Emily getting their groove on at Sparkles
Alexa, Linda, Julia, and Emily getting their groove on at Sparkles

HAPPY 2013 FROM THE WINTER FELLOWS!!!! We brought in the New Year at Sparkles, a fun Tamale bar/restaurant! The fellows had a great time breaking it down with their translators and the locals!

Amanda, Caroline, Jorda, Alexa, Saja, Kara, and Sam practicing a school education lesson

The fellows had Tuesday morning off to rest; they will soon begin their schedule of VERY early rises! After lunch, the afternoon was used for more training and team bonding exercises. To make the teams feel more connected, there was a discussion of having team jackets from this site and similar, so that there was a healthy feel of competition with fun. First, Shak and Peter taught fellows school education lessons. This group of fellows will be the first to use school education as part of their implementation. The lessons allow the fellows to target the children in the village to always drink clean water from the CWS water treatment center. We want to ensure all members of the household are aware of the benefits of clean drinking water.

Lindsay going through the ropes course with the help of her teammates
Lindsay going through the ropes course with the help of her teammates

The fellows then split into two groups and completed some team building and bonding exercises. One exercise included eliminating fellows’ senses and then having them work together to communicate. The other exercise was a ropes course in which all fellows started on one side and had to get to the other, without touching the rope or going through the same hole twice. It was pretty hot and sunny out, but the fellows definitely had a lot of laughs (and so did us leaders watching them)! Employers, in the current scenario, are frequently taking advantage of such opportunities for improving employee welfare and increasing productivity at the same time. In fact, team building activities for work can also bring employees closer and build a bond with one another. Their ability to build relationships through such events can benefit their professional lives and also create a friendlier atmosphere in the office environment.

Kara, Katie (the birthday girl), and Julia enjoying dinner at SWAD
Kara, Katie (the birthday girl), and Julia enjoying dinner at SWAD

For dinner, we went out to SWAD, one of the best restaurants here in Tamale. The fellows had great meals, from butter chicken to mushroom pizza! It was Katie’s birthday, so we all sang and she had a candle to make her wish!


First Visit to CWS Villages

africa 071Today, the fellows went to visit villages for the first time! Teams A, B, C, and D went with Kristen and translator, Amin, to Sakpalua and Kadula. Teams E, F, and G went with Sam and translator, Peter, to Chani and Kagburashe. All 4 villages are villages in which past fellowship teams have implemented the CWS model. When we arrived at the villages, the first order of business was to greet the chief. Then we traveled down to the dugout.

africa 068The dugout is the term used for the surface water the village uses as their water source. During our walk, many children joined us; by then time we got to the dugout, we resembled a parade! The children love to hold our hands and take pictures. At the dugout, the translators gave us information about the size of the village and how their water treatment center works. The teams filled buckets with dugout water to be used later for alum training. We also visited the home of the woman who runs the water treatment center! Visiting these villages was a great way to introduce the fellows to the work that has already been done by fellows and the CWS impact. It also helps them grasp the concepts they have been learning throughout orientation.

africa 074After lunch, all the translators joined their teams for training. First, the fellows completed their alum training. Alum is used as a coagulant in the CWS model to decrease the turbidity of the water, making it clear. The translators helped the fellows roll the alum into balls and swirl the alum in the dugout water collected earlier today. Tomorrow, when we check the water, it should be clear!

africa 073The fellows were then trained on household monitoring. Shak, Kristen, and Wahab acted out some typical monitoring situations. Shak should be an actor, he does a great old woman!!! The fellows then practiced household visits with their translators. With the remainder of the afternoon, the teams were taught some Dagbani phrases from their translators. Dagbani is the language spoken in Tamale and the villages! It was a long day, but just because we are all tired does NOT mean we can forget about New Year’s Eve! We will be going out in Tamale to celebrate! Happy New Year to all of you back in the States!