The past few months have been very busy for Community Water Solutions! Over the past 6 months we have opened two new water businesses, hosted 5 volunteers in Ghana, endured the rainy season, and recruited 28 more volunteers, who will be coming to Ghana this January!
At the end of April, we officially opened our sixth water business in the village of Gidanturu. Gidanturu is located on the Salaga Rd (the same road as Jarigu, Cheko, Nyamaliga, and Gbong) about 90 minutes outside of Tamale and is the home to ~650-700 people who were desperately in need of safe drinking water. During our first visit to Gidanturu I noticed that many of the children were wearing funny looking hats. After looking closely, I noticed that the children were raising money for Haiti at their school! It was truly amazing. This tiny village in rural Ghana – that we have a hard time reaching in our 4 wheel-drive truck, where people live on less than $1 per day, was raising money for Haiti!
After a few weeks of monitoring and follow-up visits in Gidanturu, we switched our focus to the 2010 CWS Summer Fellowship Program, which took place during the month of June. The CWS Fellowship Program is a three-week water education and leadership training experience in Northern Region Ghana. The purpose of the fellowship is to teach individuals about the global water crisis, and inspire them to become leaders in the field of international development. Fellows are grouped in teams of four and paired with a rural community in Northern Region Ghana. Each team works together to raise the fellowship fee before traveling to Africa. On the ground, teams are first trained in water quality testing, and the CWS water treatment methods. They then spend two weeks in the field implementing and monitoring a CWS water business in their village.
The 2010 Summer Fellows implemented a CWS water business in the village of Wambong. The village, originally thought to have had a maximum of 35 households, turned out to have over 104! So they’ve definitely had their hands full during their 2.5 weeks of field work.
The program was a huge success and we had a great time teaching and working with the 2010 Summer Fellows. Here is what some of the Fellows had to say about their time in Ghana:
"I really enjoyed working with CWS! I shared an experience that can't be found with other organizations."
"I felt like we accomplished a lot in a good amount of time, while still being able to enjoy ourselves and enjoy being in Africa."
"I'm really fortunate to be a part of CWS, and so excited to stay in touch and help out with future fellows!"
After the Fellows returned home, the rainy season in Ghana began and most of the CWS team came back to the United States to focus on fundraising and recruiting more volunteers for the 2011 Winter Fellowship Program. Our Ghanaian staff switched from "implementation mode" to "monitoring mode" and spent the rainy season checking up on our 7 water businesses to ensure a smooth seasonal transition. As we have seen in the past, many families in rural Ghana collect rainwater during the rainy season, and therefore water sales dropped in almost all of our villages. However, when the rains slowed in October, sales began to pick up again - proving the long-term sustainability of our business model.
In October, we announced the 2011 Winter Fellows, who will be coming to Ghana to work with CWS in December and January. 16 volunteers will be participating in session 1 of the Fellowship Program, which takes place from December 27th - January 14th and 12 volunteers will be joining us for session 2, which takes place from January 8th - 29th. With the help of these fellows, CWS will be in more than 14 villages by February 2012!
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