Bright and early, 5 am, this morning, Mercia and I climbed into the car with our tro-tro driver, Ben, and sped down the highway towards Lake Volta in the far east corner of the Eastern Region. The two-hour trip would have doubled if we had waited until 7am, so we left early to avoid the heavy funeral traffic on Saturdays. Our mission this day is to bring ten water filters to small fishing village on the Volta River.
I, along with Rennie Makycrown and John and Ekua Coleangle traveled by canoe to the village of Nyameben-God has come. Our boat was a rough fishing canoe with a fishing net covering most of the seats. It had a small outboard motor which allowed it to tow another even rougher canoe. The village is on the side of hill and their only contact with the “outside” world is by boat.
By the time the boat arrived we were quite hot. At only 4 degrees above the equator, the sun feels very close as soon as it rises. It was only 85 degrees but felt oppressive.
The men gathered the 20 buckets and large bag of supplies as we trudged up the hill. I am in great shape for my 68 years. I walk four miles a day when I am at home, but today I was suffering from a migraine and the hill with the sun beating down was taking a toll.
Passing many mud huts along the dusty, rough path, we arrived at the small block building used for the church. This would be my training center for the day. Two door ways, two large window openings and a tin roof. No fans and no air moving. Almost immediately children started to arrived. This program is for mothers but the children all wanted to come see why the visitors had come. Most of the children had never seen a white person. Some were scared but most were just curious. Thankfully Ekua brought crayons and coloring sheets to go along with her bible story for everyone. She taught the children while I set up for the program and waited for the mothers to arrive.
This is our fourth Water Mamas training session. Three years ago we partnered with Water with Blessings, a non-profit whose mission is to bring clean water to mothers. Through the generosity of donors, we have been able to train 70 women to be Water Mamas. Each woman agreed to share the filter with three families. That created 280 families with access to clean water. Today we added another 40 families to our growing list.
The program started with singing. I love this part and know quite a few local songs, however, I know them in Ga and this village speaks Ewe, one of the over 200 languages spoken in Ghana. Though the women were impressed that I could sing Ga and Twi songs, they took over and sang the songs in Ewe.
As my interpreter, Anthony, talked about the need for using clean water for everything and not just drinking, I studied the faces of the women. There were nods of agreement that everyone deserves clean water and amazement that this small filter can filter 1,000,000 gallons of water.
As we began putting the filter kits together, it was fun to see how the ladies shared the colored pencils to color their stickers. Already the Water Mamas were building their community. When I attached the small hose to the bucket for the filter, an outbreak of laugher ensued as the bucket now looked like it had an elephant trunk.
I knew what they were really thinking and was reminded how we women are all the same. The only thing that sets us apart is where we were born. The chosen 10 gathered their buckets, toothbrushes and snacks and headed home with big smiles on their faces.
The team and I also had smiles on our faces as we climbed aboard our canoes. Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, clean water for mothers is my dream.