GWEN Delivers Clean Water in Ghana

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Posted on September 30, 2013

tess 1After weeks in Ghana filming the “Road to Redemption,” Tess Cacciatore and filmmaker, Jeta Amata, were exhausted but committed to return to the Akuse Village.  While filming in Akuse, Cacciatore and Amata promised the village chief they would return with water filters and the necessary equipment in order to provide potable water to a large portion of the village population.

GWEN, in partnership with Waves for Water, distributed the Sawyer Filters to various communities visited throughout the filming.  In Akusi, they distributed three filters – to the village chief, the local school and hospital.  “We gave them a surprise visit and delivered the filters. The chief of the village was very excited and surprised that we even came back,” said Cacciatore.

At Dagme West District Hospital, the filter was donated to the maternity ward as the medical superintendent, Dr. Kennedy Brightson, is passionate about maternal health.

Dr Kennedy BrightsonWith an infectious smile and hearty laugh, Dr. Brightson is dedicated to eradicating the most common causes of maternal mortality in Ghana – hemorrhage, infection, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion, and obstructed labor – all preventable if there is access to prenatal care, skilled care during childbirth, and post-natal care is readily available.

Akusi village schoolMaternal health is high on the agenda of the Ghana government which pledged to the Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent between 2009 and 2015. For Ghana this means bringing down deaths from its current level of 350 per 100,000 live births to 185 in the next two years.

Stories from Ghana: Helping to Raise Awareness of Obstetric Fistula

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Posted on September 19, 2013

tess 1Renowned Nigerian filmmaker, Jeta Amata, accompanied by GWEN Co-founder, Tess Cacciatore, is determined to bring the devastating tragedy of obstetric fistula center stage with a new documentary and feature film that he is filming in Ghana this month. Here is another update from their journey:

As Jeta and Tess descended upon Mother Africa, they felt peaceful and at home. It had been three years since Jeta visited his homeland of Africa, and nearly two years for Tess since visiting her home away from home in Ghana.

Traveling with Tess and Jeta were some of the film’s cast and crew, including the TV actress, Viva Bianca, best known for her role as Ilithyia on the Starz network series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” and “Spartacus: Vengeance.”  In the film, Viva will play opposite Aliaune Damala Akon Thiam, known as Akon, the Senegalese American R&B and hip hop recording artist, songwriter, and record producer.

tess 3“I am awed by the outstanding cast Jeta has put together for this film.  After I met Viva and then found out her co-star was Akon I realized not only was this film going to be impactful in raising awareness about obstetric fistula and the issues facing young women and girls in Africa, but it was going to be an amazing piece of storytelling,” said Tess.

tess 2A few days into filming and all is going well.  As the co-founder of GWEN, Tess is playing herself in the film and, as fate would have it, the GWEN Alert is also making an important and impactful appearance. Upon discovering GWEN Alert’s GPS tracking works as well in Ghana as it does in the US, the characters use the GWEN Alert to send a call for help from the middle of the bush.  GWEN Alert to the rescue.

As the filming continues, Tess and the crew will distribute the water purification systems to villages, enabling the residents to drink the water from the local, contaminated sources.

More stories to come.  Stay tuned at

New Film Aimed to Raise Awareness of a Devastating Reality in Africa

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Posted on September 13, 2013

Have you heard of Obstetric fistula?  Largely eliminated in the United States in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century due to improved obstetric care and the use of c-sections, it is not well-known in developed countries.

ghana_mapBut it is in Africa.  It is a devastating and serious childbirth injury, which affects hundreds of thousands of women (many young girls).  Forced to give birth without any medical help and after enduring days of agonizing, obstructed labor, the pushing creates a hole, or in medical terms a “fistula”, between the birth passage and an internal organ such as the bladder or rectum. A woman cannot hold her urine, and sometimes bowel content as well.

Her baby is unlikely to survive. If she survives, a woman with fistula is likely to be rejected by her husband because of her inability to bear more children and her foul smell. She will be shunned by her community and forced to live an isolated existence, inducing profound psychological trauma in addition to suffering constantly from physical internal injury.

This is a treatable childbirth injury, but hundreds of thousands of women are suffering from this injury because they are too poor to afford surgery that costs about $450. This number keeps growing bigger — each year approximately 30,000 – 50,000 women develop this childbirth injury (

jeta amataRenowned Nigerian filmmaker, Jeta Amata, is determined to bring this devastating tragedy center stage with a new documentary and feature film that he will be filming in Ghana this month.  Amata, known for such movies as “The Amazing Grace“, “Alexa Affair”, and “Mary Slessor” has received local and international acclaim and rose to global prominence when he produced a film/documentary for the BBC, British Broadcasting Corporation in 2003 using his film “Game of Life” as footage for the documentary. Jeta’s recent credits include, “Inale” (A musical on an African fairy tale) and Black Gold (A film that chronicles the suffering of oil rich Niger Deltans of Nigeria).

Tess-Cacciatore-lead-photo-copy-SM-IMAGE-199x300Tess Cacciatore, COO and co-founder of GWEN, will be joining Amato on his journey to Africa and playing herself in the films. As part of the filming, Amato and Cacciatore will be a visiting a hospital in Tamale where 10 surgeries will be performed on real patients suffering from fistula.  Amato will be providing funding for the procedures.

“It is an extreme honor to be traveling back to Ghana, which I consider to be part of my homeland and to be working in direct contact with these amazing women who will have their lives changed due to this film,” said Cacciatore.  Jeta has set out on a mission that I am passionate about, as this is true empowerment and part of what GWEN is all about.”

Cacciatore and Amata are also bringing water purification filters to 15 families which will provide potable water to their homes and villages. The water filters are from Waves for Water, which provides clean water solutions worldwide through ongoing projects and its volunteer program, Clean Water Couriers.

Please continue to read our blog at to learn more about Amato’s and Cacciatore’s amazing journey that will bring attention and hopefully funds to stop this atrocious tragedy affecting women and young girls.