We are now only two days away from our month-iversary in Ghana. In that time, a lot has changed. We have four perfectly working biosand filters – plus three ready to be filled with sand and gravel on Monday. The villagers of Tordzinu and Dorkplorame have seen that biosand filters work and a group of volunteers from each village has learned how to produce them. Through all of that, we have had a lot laughs, frustration, progress, obstacles, and memories. Week 4 was no exception.
We showed up in Tordzinu Monday morning ready to begin organized training sessions, which included an introductory lecture and a hands-on practice with the production practice. We were eager to get to work; however, the volunteers from Tordzinu were not in Tordzinu; they were at their farms. (A downside of working during the rainy season is that it is ideal farming time. Considering most of our volunteers are subsistence farmers, scheduling training time could be difficult.) Despite the setback, we continued our work with the filters in Tordzinu and hoped the afternoon in Dorkplorame would be more successful.
It was. The people of Dorkplorame showed up in force. At first, we just had our volunteers; however, as we moved from place to place around the village, we picked up a crowd. Thirty people or more were watching me wash sand for the filter and test the filter flow rate. While I was intrigued as to why everyone found this so interesting, community engagement is community engagement, and we were glad to have it.
Tuesday, we got a few more from Tordzinu and spent our time forming new molds and dissembling ones poured the previous day. In the afternoon, Dorkplorame showed up once again in full for more training, and they kept progressing. They were quick to grasp how to make the concrete box for the filter and how to wash the sand and gravel properly, but all the measurements and tests that come with filling the filter box were not exactly natural for them. However, practice makes perfect, and they gradually improved.
Wednesday, we took a break from our usual work and took a trip to Accra to discuss our work with the Rotary Club of Accra West. This Club and another Rotary Club in the US are interested in helping out with our project, so we wanted to stop by while in Ghana. There were some similarities between Rotary meetings in the US and Ghana but also a fair share of differences. For example, while both discuss philanthropic projects and raise money for them by giving each other light-hearted fines, members in the U.S. usually do not show up in a traditional Chief’s outfit and claim their tribal status makes them immune to fines. Overall, the meeting was a fun affair, and we had the opportunity to discuss our project in-depth with a few key members after the general meeting’s conclusion.
Thursday and Friday, we got back to training and filter production as usual. Thursday, we finally got a good showing from Tordzinu, giving us the opportunity to cover a lot of ground. We also were fortunate to have another good training session in Dorkplorame. Friday, rain slowed our progress, but we still managed to finish up a few filters.
Although we only have one more week in Tordzinu, we are immensely thankful for our time here and are looking forward to the road ahead. For the last week, we hope to finish training, talk more about filter use with the community, and begin a transition towards the community leading production.