International studies and Spanish major Jack Gaynor ’20 (Lorton, Virginia) spent his summer interning as a field representative with Saha Global in Ghana, where he stayed in Tamale and worked with the community in Zakariyili.
“The main goal of Saha is to establish simple water purification systems in rural communities, which previously lacked access to safe drinking water,” Gaynor said.
As a field representative, Gaynor had a number of tasks.
“First, field representatives were responsible for creating a proposal for a clean water system and presenting it to the chief and the elders of the community for them to consider,” he explained. “Once they accepted, the field representatives then began to assemble the parts needed to construct the physical system. The next step is to construct the center, which consisted of three 200 liter blue drums and one 1,400 liter Polytank with a tap at the bottom.”
Gaynor said the field representatives also had to train the women entrepreneurs, elected by the community, on how to purify the water, as well as business and money management skills.
“We distributed safe storage containers to every house in the community, which allows for families to store the clean water in their homes for longer periods of time, while preventing recontamination,” he added. “Finally, after opening day of the water business, it is our responsibility to, once again, travel to each household in order to ensure that the community is happy with the water and the safe storage containers are being used properly.”
Gaynor said that, no matter what career path he chooses, he wants to be able to help people and make a difference in the community he’s in.
“This internship was the perfect opportunity for me to engage as a global citizen,” he said. “It was an incredible chance for me to get out of my comfort zone and experience a country that I had previously not had the chance to visit.
“Additionally, as an international studies major, I am particularly interested in the field of sustainable international development, and Saha provided me an opportunity to gain valuable experience in this discipline,” he continued.
Gaynor said the experience in Ghana had more of an effect on him than he ever thought possible, providing him with a once-in-a-lifetime experience in a foreign country, where he was able to see the world from a different perspective.
“The other Saha field representatives, members of our community in Zakariyili and our entrepreneurs taught me more than I could’ve ever hoped to teach them,” he added. “The strength, love, compassion and friendship that transcended cultural, religious and language barriers are things that I will keep with me for the rest of my life.
“I am beyond thankful for my experience, the friendships I built, the lessons I learned and the ways in which this internship shaped how I view others and the world around me,” he concluded.
by Kerry Steinhofer
July 10, 2018
Header photo: Jack Gaynor ’20 (top right) stands with members of the community and other field representatives in Ghana.