Self-Help International

Self-Help International (SHI) devotes its efforts to alleviating world hunger and poverty by providing opportunities to rural citizens that ultimately lead to self-reliance. Since its inception, Self-Help has served as a vessel; training, education, and opportunities are provided to rural citizens and whole communities in developing countries so that they can have better lives. MISSION STATEMENT: To alleviate hunger by helping people help themselves. SELF-HELP'S INITIATIVE Educate: We educate the people of the United States to understand the problems of life in developing countries particularly the awareness of the perpetual struggle by millions to produce and distribute food to battle p...
Jul 6, 2015

Almost left out

Paul (left) and Akwasi (right) in January 2015
Paul (left) and Akwasi (right) in January 2015

In rural Ghana, quite a number of children spend time idle at home or with their parents on their farms rather than in school. The importance of formal education has still not dawned on most parents within Beposo community in the Atwima Mponua District despite the nationwide push for primary education.

Esther and Simon have been married for seven years and have four children; Eric, Paul, Akwasi and Monica aged 5, 4, 3 and 1.5 years respectively. They are subsistence farmers growing maize, cassava, and plantain in Beposo.

Eric is in kindergarten (KG) 2 at Beposo D/A Basic School while Paul is in KG1 at Beposo Islamic Basic School. For unexplained reasons, Akwasi does not attend school and suffers from malnourishment, loneliness and lack of necessary parental care.

Akwasi wanted to be in school just like his elder brothers, Eric and Paul, but unfortunately, he was left alone in the house and sometimes wandered through the Beposo community while his parents worked on their farms. There were times his elder brother, Paul, would sacrifice going to school to keep him company. Akwasi would occasionally sneak in and join his brother Paul in the KG1 classroom despite the displeasure of the teachers since he was not enrolled. Yet each time he went to school, he was sure of a nutritious cup of QPM porridge.

In February 2015, SHI intervened and Akwasi was enrolled at Beposo Islamic Basic School. He is happy going to school to learn and making friends. His teachers tell SHI he never misses school and one of the things he enjoys is the QPM porridge.

Thanks to four months of eating a nutritious daily meal of QPM porridge at the school feeding program, Akwasi has shown significant improvement in his health and confidence.                

Esther and Simon have openly expressed their appreciations to SHI, especially, the staff in charge of the quality protein maize feeding program for renewing their thoughts and restoring their confidence in their son Akwasi (“Yaw” for short). They have awakened to the fact that Yaw is not different from the other children and with the needed parental care and guidance he will grow to become a responsible adult to take care of them in their old age. Akwasi has since received a school uniform and a backpack and the family is happier than before.

Akwasi ("Yaw") in February 2015
Akwasi ("Yaw") in February 2015
A healthier Yaw, 4 months on the feeding program
A healthier Yaw, 4 months on the feeding program
An appreciative & healthier family
An appreciative & healthier family

Links:

Jun 2, 2015

Caring for an aged mother

Ama and gas oven purchased with SHI loan
Ama and gas oven purchased with SHI loan

In many advanced countries there are homes for the aged where old people are sent to receive special care. There are no such homes in Ghana and many aged Ghanaians go through difficult times before their death. Women, sometimes are accused of being witches when blessed with many years, they are abandoned and left to die miserably.

Ama is 33 years old and a mother. She has three children; a daughter who is 12 years and two sons, 9 years and 10 months old. Her first two children are from her previous marriage from which she learnt good marital lessons; it pays to be a working mother who contributes financially towards her children’s education and general upbringing; a mother should not be a burden to her husband due to joblessness. This is inspiring in the face of the fact that one-third of girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18 and 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15 (http://www.icrw.org/child-marriage-facts-and-figures). Unlike other girls who are given out in marriages after basic school, Ama did petty jobs and later had the opportunity to train in pastry making.

Over the years, Ama prepared and sold pastries near a bus station at Nkawie Panin in the Atwima Nwabiagya District. Business was not encouraging because her working capital was small. In October 2012, she became a beneficiary of SHI micro credit program and received a loan of 200 Ghanaian Cedis (about $50). She invested the money in her business and she was able to pay back the loan on time. With her savings and subsequent loans she purchased a gas oven.

Currently, she takes large orders on occasions such as school graduations, weddings, naming ceremonies, and funerals. As her business expands and her profits increase she comfortably takes good care of her children; provides food, pays schools fees and medicals bills.

In December 2014, Ama successfully built a metal container with her savings to use as a shop and with a loan of 1,000 cedis (about $250) from SHI she purchased a chest freezer and now sells soft drinks, bottled and sachet water. Ama receives a lot of assistance from her aging mother at her new shop. While she goes around selling her pastries her mother manages the shop. She is excited to have found something which gives her additional income and also keeps her mother active to increase her days on earth.

Ama contributes significantly towards keeping the house and earns a lot of respect from her husband and community. Her mother is extremely proud of her and thankful as well. Ama tells SHI there is a lot of love and happiness in her family and she will forever be thankful to Self-Help International for the support.

Your donation has helped women, like Ama, to expand their businesses and provide for their families. Thank you for your continued support.

Ama and her new chest freezer
Ama and her new chest freezer
Ama in her new store.
Ama in her new store.

Links:

May 22, 2015

Adding value to avoid post-harvest losses

Teofilo with his drip irrigation system
Teofilo with his drip irrigation system

After hearing about the successes experienced at the Fred Strohbehn Training Center, the farmers that Self-Help works with in Ochomogo began asking for a value-added training sessions as well. We invited the seed producers, members of the Norman Borlaug Ochomogo Community Seed Bank, and their wives to participate in a training session for SHI's new gardening program that uses drip irrigation. This was the first time the women had been involved in the activities of the seed bank. 

Most of the women said that they would like to come to participate in the training session and be part of the program as well as they can use these new skills when they have free time in their homes. Teófilo, a farmer who lives in the community of Luz del Mañana, located 16 kms from the seed bank, came to the training. Teófilo had to ride two buses to attend the session. The first one was taken at 6:00 a.m., it’s the only one they have in his community which gets to the main road, then he took a second bus which gets to Ochomogo, and then he walked all the way  to the Seed Bank with 70 pounds of habaneros peppers in his shoulders.

Teófilo was determined and wanted to learn how to add value to his peppers. He has a plantation of habanero hot peppers on his farm and sometimes he experiences post-harvest loss when he can’t sell them all before they spoil. He was really excited to hear that Self-Help can teach him how to take advantage of all the peppers by making hot pepper sauce and pickling vegetables

For the first training session, Teófilo brought around 18 pounds of habaneros peppers to share with the rest of the group since they didn’t have anything to work with.. For the second training he brought around 70 pounds of habanero peppers.

SHI staff also worked on the design of the labels for the hot pepper sauce, and purchased all the plastic containers to package them. The label shows the name of the peppers being used, the name of the seed bank, the name of each community involved and information about Self-Help International.

From the 70 pounds of hot peppers,Teófilo and the farmers made 160 units of hot sauce in plastic containers

There are still details to work out such as the date of production, the expiration date, the percentage of preservatives we need to apply on the products, the sanitary issues among others. As for right now, priority for SHI staff is making sure that all famrers start implementing hot peppers in their own gardens so they have the products in their homes instead of buying it.                   

At the next field day training session at the Ochomogo Seed Bank farmers learned how to work with an irrigation system and how to manage it. Together with staff, attendees worked on the drip irrigation system at the seed bank.

In the future, SHI staff plans to help farmers implement the drip irrigation system on their own farms and in gardens. Teófilo is one of the first users of this new technology to ensure he has a year-round supply of habanero chili peppers to sell.

Your donation has helped farmers, like Teófilo, grow their businesses by using new technology and including value-added products. Thank you for your support.

Teofilo
Teofilo's crops
Habanero label
Habanero label
Demonstration plot at Ochomogo Seed Bank
Demonstration plot at Ochomogo Seed Bank
Teofilo displays bottles of his sauce
Teofilo displays bottles of his sauce

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