Dirt Don’t Hurt.
Our adventure begins…As we start construction of our water center, and all of our planning is becoming a reality, we are getting even more excited about our project. Our first meeting with village Gbashe did not go according to plan. We initially thought that they had six bio-sand filters for the entire village of approx. 85 households, which were provided by another non-profit, ensuring a CWS system was necessary. By the end of the visit we found out that they had six water filters for the chiefs palace alone!! Realizing they already had a great clean water system, we moved on to another village that had reached out to CWS a year ago – due to funding constraints, transportation, and distance this project had been put on hold. So we rose up to the challenge, with Peter (our translator), Small Boy (our fearless taxi driver), and Bone Shaker (our “trusty “station wagon). It wasn’t too long into the trip when we were blanketed in dirt, looking like we had just survived a spray tan catastrophe in a cheap Las Vegas salon.
Finally we arrived at Chanaayili, our new village and home for the next two weeks. We had a very successful meeting with the chief, who is da’ Bomb Diggity. He shared his wisdom with us…”When you have a load that is too heavy to carry by yourself, it is only with the help of others that you can finally lift the load.” With his wise words and welcoming attitude, we knew we had found the right village. We arranged a meeting with the entire village for 8am the next day, and with high spirits we headed back to Tamale.
The next day, after a 5am wake up and a successful meeting with the village elders, we headed to town to gather supplies (cement, sand, and 25 cinder blocks) to start construction. Only a few miles away from the village, we experienced our first “bump” in the road, with the truck’s shock system suddenly dropping off. The chief, made aware of our situation, sent a few motos to retrieve us from the bush. An unanticipated situation turned into an incredible bonding experience with our village. We…
• Played games with the kids, including drawing mustaches on them with charcoal and losing to them in foot races.
• Exchanged games and songs and made the kids giggle at our attempts at speaking Dagbani
• Practiced our corn grinding skills with the women
• Tried rubbing alcohol/ hand sanitizer, I mean “gin” packets
• Ate delicious yams and meat stew provided by the chief’s wife
• Witnessed the slaughtering of a goat to complete the funeral for the chief’s son
• Road motos to the nearest village, to get picked up by Shak!
After an epic day, we finally arrived home safely around 10pm, with our tribal faces still in tact.
The following day, we started construction of the stand for our water treatment center. Lots of men, from elders to kids, gathered to lend a hand and watch wide-eyed as we built to the beat of American pop songs. Wahab, our translator, entertainer, and building director, used calls to his forefathers to school us all in building and dancing. Over the next couple of days the construction will be finished and we are looking forward to finally providing clean water for Chanaayili. We are ready to embrace any future bumps in the road and any experiences that come along our way.
-Team 6: Karla, Sam, Annie, and Hannah