Julia Klejmont sat in striped turtleneck sweater that displayed a yellow screen-printed recycling symbol. The student from northern New Jersey switched her major four times before deciding on public health.
During Klejmont’s junior year of high school, she traveled to Thailand through Rustic Pathways, a travel and service program connecting students with families. Klejmont would have taught English there, but she became ill from unsanitary water.
Now a junior at Temple, Klejmont said she wants to give traveling another chance. While browsing for international internship opportunities, she discovered Saha Global, an organization based out of Northern Ghana.
The three-week program teaches women in rural communities to create a clean water system and turn it into a business after volunteers leave.
Klejmont discovered Saha Global on the last day the organization was accepting applications. After one week and a phone interview, she heard back from Saha Global, who “wanted to get her ready” to fundraise $3,000 for necessary chemicals and other supplies.
During Klejmont’s first week in Ghana, she will learn about the chemical processes involved in water sanitation, and the following two weeks she will be training the local women.
“We give every home in the community their own personal water bin to make sure that the water stays sanitary,” Klejmont said.
After volunteers like Klejmont leave, the sanitation system becomes a business run by community-appointed women. The women will sell the water for a fee to other community members.
“It gives them the incentive to keep the business going,” Klejmont said.
Volunteers are placed in groups of four students and given a translator. The organization is run in a town outside the city of Tamale. Klejmont compared Saha Global to a “pre-Peace Corps.”
Klejmont must raise $3,000 by the time she leaves for Ghana on Dec. 27. To purchase supplies and pay the translator, everyone going on the trip has to fundraise.
To raise money, Klejmont is looking toward outside organizations and small businesses and has thought of holding a benefit concert featuring local bands.
Though she said she is excited to spend New Years in another country, she “has no idea what it’s going to be like and if there are any special customs.”
Klejmont said her first experience traveling during her junior year of college changed her perspective of poverty and that the trip made her more conscious of conservation of basic resources like water.
Besides traveling, Klejmont was recently accepted as a heart peer educator at Temple and is a research assistant with the KiSS program, [Kids Safe and Smoke-Free] where she is working on reducing children’s exposure to secondhand smoke.
After college, Klejmont plans to become involved with the Peace Corps.
Emily Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org