Our Rising Tigers
Finally the day we and the villagers had been waiting for had arrived – our opening day! When we arrived at the dugout, six safe storage containers were already aligned in front of the Polytank in anticipation of getting clean drinking water. As the women arrived at the dugout to provide the drinking water, the numbers of buckets swelled from the initial six to close to forty. It was amazing to see the excitement the villagers had to finally have clean water despite the earliness of the day.
The women in charge of the water treatment center immediately took charge. They filled up a bucket with water to clean out all of the safe storage containers and put someone in charge to oversee cleaning. One sat at the station to collect the money and even moved some of the buckets out of the way, so that she wouldn’t fill up buckets for people who hadn’t paid yet. They then used the lids when transitioning buckets so no clean drinking water would go to waste. Once a new bucket was being filled, they would use the water in the lid to top off the bucket so each household had the most water possible in their safe storage container. One of the fellows even jokingly tried to get a bucket filled for free, and one of the woman in charge laughed at her and stuck her hand out, indicating she had to pay for a full bucket. The system was very efficient and we barely played a role in assisting them, allowing them to have full reign of their business.
Halfway through opening day, the chief and elders drove up in the chief’s Ford Pickup Truck. Many of the elders had already gotten their water and told us how tasty the water had been. The chief wanted to let us know he was leaving for Tamale to run errands, but wanted to see us before he left. From the get-go, we had always had the support of the chief; he had gathered his community to hear about our project and even talked to a few of the villagers who didn’t show up to the community meeting to ask why they didn’t come. Once again, he was showing his support by letting us know everything was going well and thanking us for our role in bringing clean water to his village.
When we were about halfway through filling up all the buckets, the Polytank ran dry. The women immediately took charge, refilling the tank with the settled water from the blue drums, and then refilling the blue drums to treat them with alum. They told the remaining people waiting in line that they would be open later in the evening once the alum had settled the water, so the remaining buckets could be filled and everyone could have clean drinking water on opening day.
Before we left, four drummers came and we danced around while the villagers watched and laughed while joining us. Finally, we left to head back to Tamale, excited for our villagers and looking forward to the upcoming days.