Sankubenase Safe Water Education Project
Ghana – Atiwa West District, Eastern Region
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FIELD
As the Covid-19 pandemic subsided and protective vaccinations were readily available, an eight-member Bright Water training team traveled to Ghana in September 2021. Steve Hutchings and Natalie Dalley led the expedition, with Linda Hansen as team coordinator. A group of other capable volunteers rounded out the team. The purpose was to initiate BWF’s safe water education program in several rural communities of the Atiwa West District, Eastern Region and to train 20+ local team members to carry out the community-based, self-directed initiative. A small group of adjacent communities totaling about 4,000 residents were pre-selected to begin the safe water education, including seven (7) local schools. Local management was given direction. Community relations were cemented with stake holders, including district health and education authorities. The TEACH-TEST-TREAT methodology was systematically taught, both in the classroom and thru practice in local communities. And a data gathering function was introduced to measure changes in water-use behaviors and family health thru surveys and water testing at the community sources and in sample households. The entries that follow represent activities of the Headquarters team and various profiles and experiences of local team members. In the coming weeks and months, periodic updates will be posted to follow the progress of the Sankubenase project.
Dennis Agyekum is a young, vibrant man, married to Jemima and blessed with two sons. He is the Ghana Project Manager for Bright Water Foundation, having worked earlier with World Joy in several capacities. Dennis is an educator in a thriving Jr. high school and has recently earned a master’s degree in educational administration. He is also active in his church ministry.
Dennis is motivated by his passion for promoting improvements in community development. He considers himself a ‘forever student,’ eager to both build on his academic foundations and continuing self-study, at the same time staying in tune with those he serves.
This young man is action oriented. He is determined to turn information into action. He is diligent in building lasting relationships with local community and traditional authorities and in implementing strategic project management methods. He is also mindful of team members in the program, always working to ensure a work-life balance for each member. Dennis believes mindfulness in any work you do is key to success, a tenet he lives out through all his activities, both personal and professional.
In Dennis’ own words, “Personally, Bright Water Foundation has been a springboard in helping me fulfill a mission to serve my fellow Ghanaians in a time of need, to be a light in the darkness to my people. The communities receiving this practical safe water education from BWF can now boast of good health and more productive time, which translates to more income and healthy children in clean, safe schools.”
BOARD MEMBER, JOY ALLEN, JOINS THE EXPEDITION
My name is Joy Allen. For many years, I have illustrated & written children’s books for various publishers including Penguin Putnam Random House, Little Brown, Dial Books for Young Readers & a host of others building a library of Seventy published books. I also license various artwork for many companies.
As I approached my retirement years, I wanted to use my talents to help make a positive difference in the world. I learned of Bright Water Foundation and its mission to bring safe water! I was hooked!
I have since helped put together Bright Water’s training manuals so that the local village SWE’s (Safe Water Experts) can be trained and then train their own villages to Teach, Test & Treat their supply of water. I also have created a children’s book and flyer called Kisi & Kofi All is Well!
This year, I visited Ghana. Here is my diary of one of the 6 schools I was blessed to visit:
“Got to go to my first school today! It was so precious! Children so polite, crowded in every nook and cranny peeking through the windows and doors- anxious to see the “obruni” (white person). They’re really aren’t windows, but openings where glass could be. Little eyes peeking over the ledges.
The children listened intently (three to a desk) and giggled at different parts of the story. I explained who I was and that I had written and illustrated many books, but now I wanted to do something special-I wanted to write a book for the children of Ghana so they could grow up healthy and strong! They clapped & thanked me. They loved the story time and we added some fun songs in too.
The “politeness” soon gave way to complete chaos when I started to give out the flyers of the story to each child. They all clamored together-hands reaching out to have one & to get a fist bump from me! I was surrounded with these beautiful, little ones! Someone tried to take a picture and one of the kids grabbed my glasses off my face! We all laughed! Such an experience!
I can’t completely describe what it’s like to experience these beautiful children. They surely deserve to grow up strong and healthy. May I only say, for me, it’s life changing!
Isaac Attamah and Stephen Tetteh, local residents of Anomon Village, Atiwa West District, Eastern Region Ghana, were two of more than 20 Ghanains who trained as safe water educators and safe water volunteers at a recent training. A mixture of classroom and in-field exercises given by the U.S. team prepared them to teach local villagers about safe water principles and practices. Water testing, treatment and storage at the household level is the main focus of their instructive activities. Taking the safe water message to all residents in the community is the BWF goal. Isaac and Stephen were excited for the training to serve their community. The colorful shirts, hats and Certificates of Achievement were all proud confirmations of their accomplishments and community involvement.
Ben Boadu is a busy man. He is an educator and Headmaster of the Nkurakan K-9 public school of nearly 300 children. He is a faithful husband and father of 3 young children. He is also a gifted artist. Despite his full daily schedule, he committed to the Bright Water Foundation 8-day Safe Water Education program training in September. He spends time weekly educating local villagers about safe water principles and practices, using the Teach-Test-Treat methodology. Ben is also helping to institute a safe water education program in the 7 local schools in his village area, including his own Nkurakan school. During recent communications Ben sent a variety of photos as he works in the school and community to teach the safe water message. “I am really glad to be part of this program,” he wrote. BWF is grateful for his leadership and teaching skills in his community.
VOLUNTEERS SHARE THEIR STORIES
As a retired civil engineer, where most of my career has been in the water and wastewater services, my involvement with BWF has provided an opportunity to be part of a collaborative effort to demonstrate how safe drinking water can be a reality in the households of rural communities in Ghana. The concept of the BWF program is to develop safe drinking water at the household level. It has gotten approval from the local government, tribal chiefs, Health Ministry and Education Ministry. The result of this collaborative effort has provided eager community members willing to learn how to keep their water safe and to share this information with their neighbors. As a water professional, there is great satisfaction to be part of such a community effort and to see that improved water quality, improves the quality of life for these communities.
Many organizations, throughout the world, have been successful in developing new, clean water sources for communities. BWF is focused on maintaining clean, safe water at the point of use, in the household. This effort supports the global Household Water Treatment and Storage (HWTS) initiative.
Extensive curriculum development and expedition team training dominated our preparations to initiate a safe water education program in Sankubenase, Ghana. However, theory and planning gave way to a much more personal note as we witnessed Bright Water Foundation’s ability to truly change peoples’ lives through safe water as we arrived in the small villages of Sankubenase, Amonom, Nkurakan, Wekpeti, and Mampong.
The members of the Atiwa West District Assembly, including the health and education sectors, expressed hope and support as we explained the purpose of our visit. The Ghana Bright Water Foundation team were capable, prepared, and excited to receive the training that will save lives in their communities. Village leaders endorsed the safe water education program and encouraged community members to adopt safe water habits to improve their health.
Through eight short days of training by the expedition team, our local Bright Water Foundation Safe Water Educators embraced the program and took responsibility to educate their friends and neighbors about the importance of safe water. We watched them capably test community and household water and use the results and the developed curriculum to convince families to treat their water. They produced public awareness announcements to reinforce their teaching. They taught school children and developed student health clubs. They participated in important problem solving sessions to develop Aquatab distribution channels, survey and sampling methods, and strategies to reach the all-important goal of program sustainability.
The success of the October, 2021 Sankubenase Bright Water Foundation expedition demonstrated that community led education, with support from Bright Water Foundation corporate, changes lives and increases health and hope for a brighter future.
CELEBRATING GLOBAL HAND WASHING DAY IN ATIWA WEST DISTRCTRICT
Since 2008, Global Handwashing Day has been celebrated annually on October 15 to promote handwashing with soap and water as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent disease and save lives. Studies have shown that handwashing with soap practiced at key moments, such as after using the toilet or before eating, will dramatically reduce the risk of diarrhea and pneumonia, which can and does cause serious illness and death. Two million children lose their lives to diarrhea alone, annually, 30,000 of them in Ghana.
The Bright Water Foundation sponsored Safe Water Education initiative in Atiwa West District, Eastern Region, Ghana, a community-based, self-directed effort decided to use October 15 to spotlight handwashing. Safe water educators and volunteers “blitzed” the local schools in the target village area with messages and handwashing demonstrations, including handwashing flyers for students to post in their homes.
We give a hearty “shout-out” to the local leadership for their innovation and initiative in celebrating this important health project in the District.