In our first semester of this year each student was required to do a political action project. Natasha, Stephany (who are not on this trip with us unfortunately), Jackie and myself did "Clean Water for Ghana." Our project came about when last year's students were visiting and asked the Chief of Chanshegu Village how they could help. This village has many orphans who they have all gathered together to care for and he asked for something to help the orphans. They then went to the orphans and women who have been caring for them and they asked if they could get clean water. On the 25th of January this village got filters to provide them with clean water. The water that they were drinking and using before came from a dugout dam, that was shared with the animals and for bathing, and was dirtier than the water after we have washed our clothes. It is filled with a variety of different parasites and bacteria and many of them die from Cholera throughout the year.
We had made two trips out to Chanshegu, which is located just outside central Tamale. The first was with the founder of Pure Home Water, the company where we bought the filters from, to drop off the 40 Kosim filters. Kosim in the local dialect means "good water." Pure Home Wwater is a local company based right in Tamale and hires women from the surrounding villages to make the clay they then use to fire into filters. The women are tuaght the perfect amount of sand and rice husk to mix in with the clay to ensure they will clean the water. Our second visit was on the 25th with our professor Muriel, Jackie, myself and our translator Sinbad. We went out to distribute and teach the women how to assemble, clean and use the filters, which was proven to be a challenge since neither spoke the other's language. The Chief was very persistant that the women who have cared for the 33 orphangs got filters first and then the widows. By giving the filters to the women (and not the men) it ensures that the women and children, as well as the men, get access to this safe water.
It was a good feeling to know that all the effort we put in to our project is actually going to make significant improvement in the lives of many. As simple and small as our project seems, it put huge smiles on the faces of the women and children. As an acknowledgement for all the work the nursing students and our professor have done in the past the Chief is making Muriel a King of the village. Which is a pretty big deal over here, huge ceremonies, sacrificing of animals, chewing of a local tradition called colanut (not sure how to spell it?). It is all very exciting and time consuming, but will be worth it in the end!