As they set about their work, the group labored in the heat, carrying large bricks, mixing cement by hand and digging holes with shovels and pickaxes. Their presence drew more than curious glances from the local population.
In Ghana's Central Region, particularly in the small village of Akwakrom, it's not every day that a group of 10 Americans — obrunis, or outsiders — arrive to lead the construction of a safe-water system.
It's downright rare when the group of volunteer workers is comprised entirely of women.
"In the middle of trying to mix cement and carry bricks, (the attention) was a bit uncomfortable," says Elizabeth Canales '12, one of eight Mount St. Mary's students and alums who journeyed to Ghana in May. "Men from the village were literally standing around videotaping us — this group of women shoveling and mixing cement. They had never seen women do that."
For the global outreach trip, the students and alums joined faculty members Lia Roberts and Laurie Wright Garry in partnership with the international nonprofit Water Brigades to assist in implementing a system to prevent water-related illness among the youth who attend school in the village. Water Brigades is a division of Global Brigades, the world's largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization.