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A Fresh Start In Ghana

2-min

Women and children in the village of Wuxor danced to hand drums and maracas as they took turns drinking water from small plastic pitchers. In January, Brother’s Brother Foundation funded a borehole to provide clean water to the 1,000-person village.

A sip of clean water in rural Ghana leads to a community- wide celebration.

Last year, women and children walked one-third of a mile away to collect dirty water they carried back to their village in buckets balanced on their heads. This year, children and grandparents tasted clean water for the first time in their lives.

“We’ve been through a lot of suffering, walking through thick bushes with many dangers all in search of water, just as our forefathers did even before us. Today, your benevolence has brought us clean water. You have brought us life. We are so happy we won’t suffer for water ever again,” a resident of Wuxor said during a ceremony inaugurating the borehole.

Wuxor’s borehole is one of several recent projects BBF has completed in collaboration with its on-the-ground partner Hope for Ghana, a grassroots nonprofit organization founded and led by Dr. Steve Greene. Dr. Greene, a practicing pediatrician in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, first visited Ghana for a medical mission trip in 1986. Almost 37 years later, he still visits – but instead of fighting Malaria and Cholera, Dr. Greene has turned his attention to providing access to clean water and boosting education.

Last year, BBF supported Dr. Greene with Lawrence’s School of Hope in the village of Sesime by funding the school’s solar panels and computer lab and by installing infrastructure creating access to clean water. BBF also provided Ghanian medical facilities with a shipment of medical supplies that included 24 hospital beds sent to a maternity ward where women had been giving birth on the floor. Dr. Greene, on the ground, provided contacts to healthcare centers in need and helped distribute the supplies.

“I think a lot of people probably would want to do this work if they saw it. I think most of us in the developed side of the world don’t even know what goes on [in Ghana],” Dr. Greene said. “It touches you. If you came to Ghana, you would want to go back.”

UNICEF estimates that 4,000 Ghanaian children die from diarrhea every year and 23% of children in Ghana suffer from chronic malnutrition caused by poor water and sanitation. Dr. Greene has been exposed to these statistics firsthand – while he no longer goes to Ghana on medical trips, it’s not uncommon for him to see people vomiting or having diarrhea after contracting waterborne illness. If left untreated, these diseases can often be fatal. Cholera, for instance, can lead to death in 25% to 50% of people who do not seek out medical attention.

“In America, [someone will say] ‘I have three kids.’ They don’t qualify; that’s it. In Ghana, you’ll get ‘Oh, I have three kids, two are alive.’ They’ll qualify how many have lived and how many have died. It’s just natural that someone has died,” Dr. Greene said.

A study published in 2022 reports that nine of every 10 Ghanaians have access to drinking water from “improved sources,” defined by the World Health Organization as water sources likely protected from outside contamination which people can access within a 30-minute round trip. When juxtaposed with the United Nations’ goal to make drinking water accessible to everyone by 2030, this statistic seems encouraging. However, Ghana’s growing population and poor sanitation puts these water sources at an increased risk for contamination.

Those living in the country’s rural regions are most impacted by Ghana’s lack of infrastructure, as rural households are eight times more likely to drink from unimproved water sources than urban households and also less likely to have safe sanitation.

BBF has been chipping away at the long list of Ghanian villages without access to safe drinking water by expanding its response. Another celebration erupted at the end of February, this time in the village of Ahlihadzi. Utilizing its partnership with Hope for Ghana, BBF brought clean drinking water to the estimated 1,200 to 1,500 people who live there. Doing so, however, proved more challenging than it did with previous projects: after being drilled, the borehole pumped out contaminated water.

It would need to be purified through a reverse osmosis machine before being safe for consumption, and this would require the village to incur additional electricity costs that would be unaffordable in the long term. BBF circumvented this issue by providing enough funding to install borehole, reverse osmosis machine, and solar panels that reduce electricity costs.

For women and children living in Ahlihadzi, access to a clean and reliable water source means they no longer have to wait days for dirt to settle in a river before walking one-half of a mile to fill a bucket with water. Instead, women can get jobs and children can go to school.

On his trips back to Ghana, Dr. Greene often revisits the villages he’s installed boreholes in. People are as grateful then as they were years ago when the borehole was drilled.

“They use [water from the borehole] for drinking, cooking, washing their clothes, bathing. It’s changed their life, absolutely changed their life,” Dr. Greene said.

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