Monday, January 12, 2015

You've been SURVEYED!

Afwee Shepa! (still relevant, we think)

We've finally made it to the internet cafe! After navigating through a maze of Nsawam's busy streets of taxis, fruit stands (without fruit), and market hustle and becoming completely lost, we've finally collected our wits about us and used our resourceful teamwork to locate familiar territory once again to bring you this run on sentence. What a triumph!

The past few days have been full of meetings and surveys and we are brimming with new information, ideas, and motivation to begin the next stages of our projects. On the side, we've also completed the plumbing on the Central and Western latrines (2 of the main latrines in Obodan), that was not finished from last winter's travel trip. It's been a busy few days.

Our first community meeting was with Kwasi Doi on Saturday, in which we responded to the community's feedback that their latrine is low functioning with water often filling the pits. We have been faced with this issue for the past 2.5 years and cannot locate the source of the water. Thus, we've decided in keeping with our end of the bargain, it is our responsibility to provide a new, functional latrine that meets the need of the community. During the meeting, we discussed the latrine options and design criteria with the attendees for the future toilet plans. The conclusion was that the community prefers a KVIP with more seats to meet the demand of the community members.

The second community meeting held over this weekend was with Akwakupom on Sunday (nice and early at 630am). At this session, we deliberated the future of their current latrine system, which had been converted from a source-separating latrine into a lined pit latrine (similar to a KVIP) since our last travel trip. The pits on both sides of the latrine were opened a month ago due to the great demand during a funeral. The key intention of this meeting was to make the community members aware that the original functionality of the latrine was lost since the design was modified. The meeting was concluded with responsibility for the latrine's maintenance being handed over to the community.

Our final meeting was our Latrine Education Workshop with the greater community of Obodan. Here, all the posters and shoeboxes we lugged to Ghana came to use. These materials were used to explain the components of the latrine that caused the most confusion as highlighted by our surveys. We also passed around a bag of compost from the pilot latrine to show the end goal and results of source-separating latrines (beautiful black soil). The community members actively participated with questions and discussions and we are more confident than ever that the latrines are in capable hands and will be well maintained in our absence.

Today we switched gears (and communities) and headed to Amanfrom. Mike, the assemblyman from Amanfrom previously introduced, was waiting for us as we showed up at 830AM Ghana time. Mike's punctuality will definitely take some getting used to! We spent the entire day with Mike and Emmanuel, another member of the community, talking and surveying the different households through Amanfrom to gain a better understanding of how our skills can best help. Some of the problems that the different households brought up included lack of water access, lack of a secondary school in the region, and a low supply of public latrines to meet the demand of the community. We will be taking this information back to Columbia and can't wait to share it with everyone at home (who are all reading this, we're sure).

For the comic relief part of this blog post, the team decided to cook Faustina a meal to show our appreciation for all her assistance with translation work over the past week. Moral of this saga, never try new recipes with guests and Mexican-American Ghanaian fusion will not catch on anytime in the near future. However, if you don't like to see or taste your onions or tomatoes, you can hide them quite well in a stew of black beans, casava, and taco seasoning. Faustina was a delightful dinner guest and when asked her opinoin of our meal, could only muster laughter.

We'll be eating out tonight; until next time!

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