Four for Ghana: SJU Women Spend the Summer Serving
Thursday, July 24, 2014
by Katie Smith ’15
PHILADELPHIA (July 24, 2014) — Sofia Peirats and Melissa Quinn, both Class of 2014 graduates, found a non-traditional way to celebrate their graduation from Saint Joseph’s. Rather than spend time at the beach or travel across Europe, the two went to Ghana for three weeks, accompanied by Erin David ’16, as Community Water Solutions (CWS) Fellows.
Nicole Quirk ‘15 was also called to serve in Ghana this summer, choosing to work with City of Refuge Ministries (CORM), a grass-roots religious organization that supports rescued children.
CWS is a non-profit social enterprise that partners with rural communities to establish sustainable water treatment businesses in centers that are owned and operated by the communities they serve, using affordable technologies to treat, distribute and store clean drinking water.
“The work was rewarding,” says Quinn, of Baltimore, Md., who majored in biology. “The early wake ups, long days in the sun, and challenges of setting up the center paid off when the village chairman's face lit up as he took the first sip of clean water from our center.”
The CWS Fellowship program was created to increase awareness about the global water crisis and inspire others to engage in international development projects. It also functions as leadership training program. Each fellow raises $2,950 to cover all in-country expenses, including the cost of establishing and monitoring a CWS water business.
Upon arriving in northern Ghana, Peirats, Quinn, and David were trained in water testing and treatment before moving into the rural communities, where they were responsible for implementing and the subsequent monitoring of the water system established in the villages.
For Peirats, of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, who studied sociology, the trip opened her eyes to how she takes water for granted. “Water is a basic human need, and it was baffling to learn that many people, especially children, lack access to it,” she says.
David, international relations major from Greenwich, Conn., says that the relationships she formed in Ghana made the biggest impact on her. “I will never forget the work ethic of the women in the village,” she says. “From a young age, they took on more responsibility than I will ever have, and they made it look effortless.”
The plight of orphaned, abandoned and trafficked Ghanaian children inspired Quirk, a sociology major from East Greenwich, R.I., to accept a six-week internship with CORM. The organization also offers programs that work holistically within the community, providing at-risk children with a safe place to live and learn in the Children’s Village, where Quirk is teaching reading skills.
“I am here for the children,” says Quirk. “They have each been through so much in their lives, and this is a place where they can finally just be kids.”