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World Water Day 2015

Every year for World Water Day, we invite some of our women entrepreneurs to our office in Tamale for a little celebration. Although many of these ladies have worked with Saha for years, they rarely get to meet other water entrepreneurs since their communities are far from each other. We love having an excuse to get some of the women together so they can share ideas, discuss issues and have fun getting to know one another. It’s one of our favorite days of the year! Read about past World Water Days here, here and here!

Since n oone from our American team was in Ghana for World Water Day this year, I’m turning the blog over to one of our managers, Eric. This is Eric’s first blog post!

Picking which women to invite to World Water Day is always a hard decision. This year, the staff sat at a meeting and decided to cast lots to pick the women to invite. All Saha Global villages were written on pieces of paper. Each staff member took turns to pick a village till we got to the number needed. The chosen villages were later visited by staff to formerly invite the women for World Water Day.

On the day of the celebration, when they got to town from their respective villages, the women called the office of their arrival. They were told to grab any available cab and directions were given to the driver and they were brought to the office.

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When the first batch of women arrived, a movie was played with the projector whilst the other were waited on. Anytime a batch came, they were served with drinks. Sachet water was also available. Later we gave the women a tour and they were excited to see their pictures displayed in the office!

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Once everyone arrived, presentations started. Peter started by welcoming the women and talked on World Water Day. It’s celebrated all over the world all in the aim of bringing awareness on the need to drink safe,clean drinking water. Wahab talked on why dugout water is not safe to drink. He talked on how the dugout gets contaminated with human and animal excrement, and also sewage from households. That causes bacteria which make people sick. I then talked on sales and savings. I explained the ways they can make sales anytime water is treated, like making an announcement at the mosque or going round households to tell people that water is ready.  I also talked about how savings is important so that parts can be fixed or replaced when spoilt. Next, Shak encouraged the women to keep up the good work. He spoke on the need to always contact the chief and elders to update them on the progress of their work. Finally, Amin finished the presentations by telling the women to keep their centers clean and attractive. He spoke on the need to keep centres up and running and finished with a poem on water.

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We then help lead discussions among the women. The women from Moya talked about how their village has taken the centre seriously. People come to refill their safe storage containers anytime they run out of clean water. Awabu from Kulaa said “Saha is the best!” Although other two water projects have been set up in Kulaa,the people still come to the center to refill their safe storage containers. Djelo women are happy that solar has been added to the water centre. Now at night, their kids read and do their homework. The village is now bright at night and they are grateful. Women from Laligu said how people, especially the kids, used to complain of stomach ache. But now, thanks to the water treatment center, they don’t experience such again.

After three staff members gave their presentations, we went for break. Food and drinks were served. Presentations continued after the break. After presentations,the women were thanked for making it possible. Women were given transport money. Later went out and took a group picture of the staff with the women. The cab drivers were called and and the women departed the office to their various stations. It was a great day!

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Shak, Eric, Peter, Wahab, Amin, and Mark, with Fusiena, Zelia, Azara, Zaharawu, Sharatu, Awabu, Fati, Kusumi, Memounatu, Latifa, Moshi, Memounatu, Sharatu, Fatima, Fatimatah and Hamshaw.

-Eric Angkosaala

Voices from the field: Team G (Gabi, Katie, Jane & Jakob)

Hi Everyone!

DSCN0365Team G here (Gabi, Katie, Jane & Jakob). Today we went to our village, Kulaa, to conduct monitoring of the villager’s safe storage containers. Jakob stayed home with an injured foot (who is now fully recovered) but we had Sam with us, which really helped to get us through an otherwise very hot day in the village.

We started our day on Ghana time (aka slightly later), but we stopped along the way to pick up egg sandwiches, which are heavenly, they consist of scrambled eggs, tomatoes, onions, and Panini bread, all for the price of 1 cedi and 50 pesewas (75 cents) for a two-egg sandwich.

Once in the village we intended to conduct safe drinking water discussions with the children at the school, but everyone was still cleaning the school building since it was the first day back after the holiday break. Instead, we coordinated with the teachers to conduct the safe water discussion tomorrow, and we went household-to-household for monitoring for the rest of the afternoon.

We were very pleased with our monitoring as all of the households had clear water, and everyone exclaimed how they loved the taste of the clean water and would continue to drink the clean water from the polytank.

DSC03715The children continued to follow us as we made our way through the village; each child always tries to cling to each limb/hand/backpack string. One baby in particular is the child of the Queen Mother (basically the older woman who is in charge of the women/children), and this baby is a round little girl with pierced ears, eyeliner, and a belly that says she eats very well! Jane placed one of the children in the open pocket of her backpack (similar to a baby carrier in the US—see picture below). Gabi cleaned and treated a number of gashes on the limbs of the children—we are hoping to teach them to clean their wounds before they become infected. Katie has been attracting many suitors, including one young man, about 20 years old, who approached Katie while she was holding one of the babies and said (Ghanaian accent), “Hello. I want to be your friend (touches her hand). I want to call you at your hotel.”

IMG_0335We all love our village, and the villagers in particular are extremely warm, welcoming, and helpful with everything we bring to them. Tomorrow will be our last day in the village and we plan to shower them with candy, clothes, water bottles, and toys. We will greatly miss our village and everyone in it, but we are confident they will maintain this water business for years and years of good health.

 

XOXO

Team G

 

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.

xoxox

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

-Urooj

Voices from the field: Team B (Caroline, Amanda and Iyi)

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Team B

We were so thrilled see such amazing community involvement!  Our village’s was named Toyinahili, about 1 hour outside of Tamale. There are approximately 100 households in the village and many adorable children.

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Azabel (red shirt) hands the mason a tool to make the cement.

The turnout to build the Polytank stand was predominantly male and everyone pitched in to help.  It was nice to see the whole community come together to help the implementation process.  Each person played an intrigal part of the stand: the son of the chief, Azabel and Shak (our translator) took control of the build and a mason came and did the cement work for free. Children goofed around and lounged the in shade – once spotting a crocodile in the lake and rushing over to see it. Our Polytank spot is wedged in between two trees by the dugout and is a beautiful spot for clean water.

DSC05981-1After the stand was finished we headed up to the center of the village and gathered the children around to brush their teeth. The day before, we had given each child a toothbrush and a toothpaste packet and taught them how to brush. For all of the children, it was their first encounter with a toothbrush. Amanda noticed when she first arrived that all the children had very white teeth but as age increased, tooth decay did as well. Watching them raise their hands proudly to declare who had brushed the night before was an amazing feeling for everyone on the team.

Happy Birthday Iyi
Happy Birthday Iyi

Today was also Iyi’s birthday 21st (January 6th)!  Shak decided to pour water on Iyi to help him celebrate.  A special celebration is planned for tonight!  Our translator Shak can do just about anything as he is a “jack of all trades”.  Whether it would be fixing his truck on the side of the road, or helping transport and build the parts of the water purification business, he always is calm collected, and nonchalant.  This is because Shak has worked with CWS for a few years now, and he is always prepared for whatever the day brings.  Our purification drums were held to the car solely by long strips of elastic, which was tied down securely by “do-it –all “ Shak.  The cement work took about 2 hours however since a good portion of the community was there, many hands made light work.   When the cement work was done everyone, Shak, Amanda, Caroline, and Iyi signed the cement so that the entire village would remember us for generations to come.  Tomorrow we will begin training the appointed women to run the business on how to make the balls of alum and their role in the water purification business.  Everything is running smoothly.  Tohyinayili’s opening day could be easily as early as Wednesday, January 9th, 2013!

–Caroline, Amanda, Shak, Iyi

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. Our water testing lab allows us to measure the bacteria in the water, both from individual households and the village water source. The fellows practiced working in the lab by tested the water they collected during household monitoring.

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!

Best,

Kristen

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. First, Shak and Peter taught the 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)!

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!

-Kristen

 

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!

Best,

Kristen