My name is Chuck Catton, a technical service agent for the Canadian division of Aquascape. In 2014 I had the pleasure of travelling to Ghana, Africa to build a rainwater harvest system. Although I have been involved in the water gardening industry for 25 years working and training contractors, this was a trip I had not planned. Due to a last minute change, Ed Beaulieu, the usual foreman on these projects, was unable to lead this expedition. I was then brought in to take his place. I had never considered going on a mission like this and I was quite nervous about it to say the least. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into and had no idea how much it would change how I view the world.
I first met my team at the airport and although I didn’t know anyone in the group, they all welcomed me with open arms. There was an aura of excitement and nervousness amongst us all. Once we arrived in Ghana we were greeted by members of the I.N. Network and brought to where we would be staying. They were very friendly and accommodating.
The next morning we went to the village, Kanuwloe, where we were to build the rain water harvesting system. This was a very surreal experience and difficult to explain. It really was something straight out of National Geographic. I was taken aback by how little the people had, yet how happy they were. Every morning we were greeted by many smiling faces.
The project itself wasn’t without its issues and you can’t just go to a local hardware store for supplies, but we were able to finish it on time. For me, the most memorable part of the trip was at the end of the project. Our group wanted to see for ourselves where the water source for the village had been and what the locals had to do to get it. I am not sure any of us knew what we were in for. After hiking over 30 minutes in the blistering heat, we came to a cattle pasture. Our team looked at each other, then our guide, and back down at the ground. We saw hoof prints filled with brown water and beside these were cow patties. This had been their drinking water! This was the point when we all truly realized how the rain water harvest system would change the lives of these people. Amazing, Amazing, Amazing!
This was by far one of the hardest things I have done in my life but also the most rewarding. If I have the opportunity to go back, I will jump at the chance. I am definitely grateful for the world around me and I do view my life differently after being involved in this project.