By Ray Johnson
In Nkwaateng, Ghana, part of the Birim North region, we met with the local Water and Sanitation committee. They have a water committee because they have a completed water project. It was great to see a finished project much like what HSBC will be providing to communities in the region. Mamaso is the old name for this community and is the name of the river located near where their ancestors lived. As a result of perennial flooding, they relocated to the present site. The Nkwaateng name means “far place” to signify how they viewed the distance of present abode from that of their ancestors. The residents grow cocoa, palm trees and plantains. They also produce lots of palm oil for sale outside the community. This is where I met Ester Dansu, a 67 year old owner of the palm oil extraction operation which employs the locals. Ester lost her husband and a son to disease, partially due to unsafe water conditions prior to clean water coming to the Village. Death of family members at a young age is all too common and the people become desensitized to the impact of losing a child or spouse. Ester was almost matter of fact about it, even while describing her own health issues. At the same time, she showed us the strength it takes to turn the palm oil press. I tried it myself and can attest to the strength needed. She was an inspiration. I’ll close with talking about Andrew, a nine-year-old old I bonded with. This is why we are here – to help try and improve the lives of the people and especially the children with clean water and sanitation. Andrew could be a world renowned engineer if the construction of his wooden cart is any indication. By sanding down a simple stick, adding wheels (complete with bottle tops), a steering wheel and a stick for “going straight” he created his very own form of transportation. Through the support of the HSBC Water Programme and WaterAid, we hope people like Ester and Andrew will have access to the basics they need to work towards a better quality-of-life.