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!





Packed First Day in Tamale

Name gaming outside in the morning's cool weather before it heats up
Name gaming outside in the morning’s cool weather before it heats up

Packed first day for all of us in Tamale! With a day behind in orientation we had to get right at it. We started the day with a classic name game– with 26 of us, late plane arrivals it was time to get to know each other!

A priceless picture of faces as Kristen goes into detail about water related diseases
A priceless picture of faces as Kristen goes into detail about water related diseases

We then headed inside to get down to the nitty gritty! Kristen and I gave presentations touching on the water crisis, water and disease, water interventions in the developing world, and finally, the ins and outs of CWS! Everyone had great questions and you could tell they were only getting more excited about getting out into the villages tomorrow to see it all first hand.

The entire crew before heading out on thier scavenger trip adventure!

After a lunch break, we revealed everyone’s teams! To get all the teams bonding quickly we sent them all out on a scavenger hunt through the market. Always a little daugnthing at first but always finishing with lots of laughs and great stories!! Following the scavenger hunt was dinner and the first meeting of each teams translator for the next three weeks. We celebrating the big reveal with a dance party. We brought in Tamale’s finest cultural dancers and danced the night away! Needless to say, we all had an awesome day and excited to get out into the field tomorrow! Keep posted for tomorrow’s adventure!


Welcome to Ghana!

No more waiting in the airport for anyone! So happy to have our fellows all together!! Below is Sam, Peter & Kristen!
No more waiting in the airport for anyone! So happy to have our fellows all together!! Below is Sam, Peter & Kristen!

As of this evening, all 26 Winter Fellows have arrived safely in Accra! Despite a long couple of days of travel, and a few missing bags, the group is in great spirits and excited to start the Fellowship! Tomorrow morning, all of the Fellows and their leaders will hop on the bus and head up to Tamale. Everyone can’t wait to get to the Northern Region and officially begin orientation on Sunday!


Below are some pics of some of our weary (and hungry!) travelers settling in and chowing down on some delicious pizza!!

DSCN0591  DSCN0589


Its Not a Winter Fellowship Without Some Snow!

The winter storm that made its way from the Midwest to the East Coast over the past few days has been no match for CWS! Despite a handful of flight delays and cancellations, all 26 of our Fellows have either arrived or are enroute to Accra. Saja, Alexa, Corrine, Iyi, Josh, Priya, Caroline, Linda, Sarah, Amanda, Vanessa, Jakob, Rachel and Urooj have all arrived safely in Ghana where they were met by Shak, Peter, Sam, and Kristen. Instead of heading upto Tamale tomorrow, this group will get a day to explore Accra while we wait for Lauren,, Casey, Chris, Emily, Gabriela, Jane, Jordan, Julia, Kara, Katie, Lindsay and Tyler to land on Friday.  Then the whole group will take the bus to Tamale together on Saturday – a day later than originally planned, but a day that can easily be made up for later in our Fellowship schedule.

All of the Fellows have been very plucky travelers despite the frustrating delays.  We can’t wait for them all to arrive in Ghana so the program can officially begin!


Meet Our 2013 Winter Fellowship Leader, Kristen!

It is with pleasure that I introduce you to our 2013 Winter Fellowship Leader, Kristen Felicione. Kristen was a fellow last year on the 2012 Winter Fellowhip Program and WOW-ed us with her fun, postive personality (despite her 2 hour drive on terrible roads) and her knowledge about the water crisis on a public health level. We are so thrilled that she will now be returning with us in December! Welcome to the team Kristen!


The second my foot touched American soil after my fellowship adventure, I knew I had to go back to Ghana at some point in my life. Luckily, the opportunity has come less than a year later, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the CWS team and ensure the 2013Winter Fellows have as great of an experience as I did.

I’m currently a second year graduate student at The George Washington University; I will be graduating in May with my MPH. Before my experience with CWS, I was passionate about philanthropy and health, yet all my work was on a domestic level. The fellowship allowed first hand experience of the health difficulties in the developing world. I tremendously support CWS’ mission and their continued work to mitigate the global water crisis. CWS’ model not only provides thousands of Ghanaians with clean drinking water, it enables villagers to take control of their health as a community. The project is also sustainable and monitored, two imperative aspects for survival of a public health intervention. Not only does CWS’ fellowship program aid many people lacking access to clean drinking water, but it also helps fellows become leaders, learn to think on their feet, and gain some perspective on their own lives.

Besides creating a water treatment center, there is plenty of fun to be had in Ghana! The translators are a blast to be around; I learned so much about Ghanaian culture from them (I listen to my HipLife music whenever I need to start the day out right)! I ate my first rat, realized some jokes just don’t make it through the language barrier, and taught 20 kids how to “High 5” all within 3 weeks! I can’t wait to be the 2013 Winter Fellowship leader and hear all about the fellows’ unique observations and achievements at the end of each day. See you in December!!!

-Kristen Felicione

2012 Fall Fellowship Comes to a Close

A sad day in Ghana… Steven, Nicole & Tiffany headed out of Ghana last night. Joe, Lubna, Lauren and I are spending our last day in Accra before heading out tonight. And Britty and Jessie are off traveling….. bringing the Fall Fellowship to a close!

We are so thankful for Fall Fellows efforts over these past few months! Because of your dedication and hard work we were able to reach two more villages! It was such a successful trip where our fellows were able to bring clean drinking water to 1,752 people! WOW! What an accomplishment!

From your long days in the field, the CWS BBQ/Halloween Party/Eid-al-adha celebration , the cultural dance party, to simple nights over debrief we had such blast with you guys! We wish you all the best in the future and are so glad to have you a part of the CWS Alumi Crew!

The 2012 Fall Fellows!

Voices from the Field: Team Tijo (Britty, Steven, Nicole and Tiffany)

Team Tijo on opening day!

Team Tijo’s opening day happened on Wednesday. They had prepared for days making sure the polytank was filled to the brim. With 187 households it was important to get the polytank all the way full to be sure to have enough water for everyone. They arrived early Wednesday morning to a line of people waiting to fill their safe storage containers for the first time! When they turned the tap to fill the first bucket nothing came out. The polytank was completely empty. The team was so disappointed and the village was extremely embarrassed. Someone had emptied all of the clean drinking water out of the polytank! Despite this disappointment, opening day continued! The women and fellows had the 4 blue drums of treated alum water to chlorinate and sell. There was still a long line of excited customers waiting to taste the clean drinking water. The center was able to fill 50 buckets with water and the rest of the people were very understanding as to what happened. The women were going to head back to the center that afternoon to go ahead a treat more water. No one had ever found out what had happened, but since that incident the chief had a village meeting and all things continue to run smoothly.

Here is what Britty, Steven, Nicole & Tiffany had to say about it:

After Tijo’s challenging Opening Day, we went into the village with the hope that everything was resolved. We were pleasantly surprised to find that all of the families really understood and followed the lessons we offered. All buckets were cleaned prior to being filled with water from the polytank, and placed on a platform with a clean drinking cup put on top. In addition to their excellent practices, the families informed us that they enjoyed the taste of the water. One woman even stated that her stomach felt better after drinking the treated water.

It was very exciting for the team to see the positive outcome of our hard work leading up to Opening Day. We were amazed by how well everything was received by the villagers.

Opening Day in Tijo!

Time is Flying By

Time is flying by in Tamale! It was just last week that we were finishing up orientation and now opening days are almost here!

Steven, Tiffany, Nicole and Britty on the way to their village

One of the words that we like to use to describe our fellows is plucky! Their ability to go with the flow, find humor in frustrating situations, and make it through the heat and long days in the village is what makes our fellows SO awesome! These two teams are definitely the perfect display of that! The two villages the fall fellows are implementing into are Tijo and Tindan. They are both in the same direction and about and hour and half outside of Tamale. With the long drive and about 8 hour days in the field both these teams are the definition of plucky! Even though tired from their days, all the fellows return back to Gillbt in time for dinner with positive attitude and great stories!

Tiffany and some men of Tijo snap a proud pic in front of thier finishedpolytank stand
Tiffany and some men of Tijo snap a proud pic in front of thier finishedpolytank stand

Both teams have completed their polytank stands and training of the women. Today the teams are off distributing their safe storage containers from household to household. The distribution of buckets is a very important time in the implementation process. This is the first time you are able to get one-on-one with each household to not only explain the water treatment center but to also answer any questions they may have.

 Kids of Tijo! No doubt that they love the fellows company over the past few days!
Kids of Tijo! No doubt that they love the fellows company over the past few days!

Britty, Steven, Nicole, Tiffany and, translator Shak have been hard at work getting ready for opening day on Wednesday! They are implementing into the village Tijo, which is one of CWS’ largest villages to date with 187 households. Because of their number of households they needed to add ina few more days of safe storage distribution.

Joe, Lauren, Jessie, Lubna and translator, Wahab, aside from some car troubles, have breezing through their implementation into Tindan. Tindan has 37 total households. They are having their opening day tomorrow and we can not wait to hear how the big day goes!

Assembling the CWS safe storage containers
Assembling the CWS safe storage containers

In the next few days you will  be hearing from these teams directly to get a real sense of their time in their village!

All of the pictures below are of Team Tijo! I have yet to have the chance to snag one of the teammates from Tindan to get pics to upload—those will hopefully be up by tomorrow!


Celebrating Cheif Meetings

Today the fellows are off to hold their chief meetings with their new villages. Yesterday they went to their villages to set up the meeting and today they will be sitting down with their respected chief and elders to talk about how they can bring clean drinking water to their entire community.

We are all anxiously awaiting the details about the meeting and of course with the village’s final decision!

In the meantime, we went out to dinner to cheers the fellows good luck in their meetings and to celebrate bringing more communities clean drinking water. We all (yes, all 10 of us) piled into the jeep and headed to Swad– a CWS fav!


The 2012 CWS Fall Fellows!
The 2012 CWS Fall Fellows!

Monitoring with the Fellows

Alum training
Alum training

Yesterday started off with alum training. In the fellows site visits to Kurugu Vohoyili and Kpalung the Fellows collected dugout water. They used this water to practive performing water quality tests the lab, and to practice the alum treatment. The alum is the first step in the water treatment process. It works to remove the turbidity from the water—the particle all flock together and fall to the bottom, leaving clear water on top and the sludge on the bottom. Having only seen a video of the women doing it themselves, it was important for the everyone to get comfortable with using alum.

Practicing dugboni
Practicing dugboni

After training, the fellows were off with their translators to get some more Dugbani lessons. They went over the different word pronunciations and then did some mock households-visits to get comfortable with the dialogue.

Later in the afternoon we all headed to the office for a presentation on monitoring given by our Ghana Country Director, Brianan. She went over what we look for in monitoring, how we troubleshoot any issues and really what she does on a day to day basis. Brianan did a great just and the fellows got a good senses as to what monitoring entails.

The Fall Fellows listening as Brianan explains her job as CWS' Ghana Country Director
The Fall Fellows listening as Brianan explains her job as CWS’ Ghana Country Director

The fellows were off early this morning to put their knowledge to the test! They headed off to Manguli and Gbung to do household monitoring. They were all pumped to get back in the field! Tomorrow they will be approaching their new villages– a very exciting day which will be celebrated with a dinner at Swaad!