Before we work with a village, the villagers usually drink dirty water and have no sanitation. As a result, diarrhoea and other water-related diseases are a way of life.
The children, who are tired most of the time from having to fetch water or work on farms, go to inadequate schools and few are able to read and write when they leave. There is usually no healthcare, except for traditional medicine, and crops often fail. Most of the people are hungry most of the time, and we are often brought starving babies to look after.
There is no bustle or activity in villages like these. Many people look depressed. In short, there is no hope.
Soon after we start work, the atmosphere changes. Small table-top shops spring up everywhere, and bicycles appear or even the occasional taxi. We have problems measuring mortality rates, but BMI tests show that children are well fed and we make sure that, at least in the short term, most people are covered by National Health Insurance. Spoken English and education in general are much improved.
We are working, or have finished working, in thirty-one villages in the Ashanti Region. An average village consists of around 2,000 people.