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...
Sep 5, 2014

Pickling program popular with beneficiaries

Beneficiaries display their first jars of pickles.
Beneficiaries display their first jars of pickles.

At the start of the year, Self-Help International introduced a pickling and preserves program at the Fred Strohbehn Training Center in Nicaragua. Targeting the women in the microcredit program and

their children, this new initiative aims to educate families on how to start a home garden using drip irrigation technology, as well as how to add value to their produce at market.

The women are able to sell the fresh produce from their garden as an extra source of income, and what they don’t sell, they can preserve for even more income with a greater profit margin. The Nicaragua Training Center offers monthly training sessions on preparing pickled vegetables, jams, and marmalades, where women like Ana and her children learn proper methods to preserve produce.

Ana, a mother who takes pride in her children and home, wanted to provide for her family by gardening and pickling. On April 23, Self-Help International taught Ana and her three children how to plant a variety of seedlings in their family garden: chili peppers, papayas, passion fruit, and dragon fruit. Two weeks later, Ana brought her children to the training center where she and her children learned to make marmalades to preserve their fruits.

“What I’ve learned from the program is how to cultivate a garden, I have ideas of how to do things better in the home…it’s not necessary to go to the hardware store,” she said, gesturing to the watering can she made for herself from an old jerrycan while she was saving up to install a drip irrigation system.

Ana listed off what she had learned from Self-Help: to make marmalades, chili sauce, and to share experiences with the other women in the training sessions, as well as how to manage money, make profit, how to make better investments, “all these things!” she exclaimed with a grin.

Ana said of the micro-credit program, “I give thanks to the donors and all the people who are involved in this program. You help us and all the hardworking women who are involved now, who aren’t shy, who work and struggle: you help us make progress. It’s beautiful.”

This program has already reached 53 women like Ana through demonstration gardening plots at the training center. As many as 29 adolescents have attended training sessions on how to make the value-added products, and many more have helped their mothers with the gardening, pickling and fruit preservation at home. The program is increasingly gaining popularity as training sessions are continuing to be filled by interested women and youth.

Self-Help International aims to expand this program to more families in Nicaragua, introducing composting and other methods to encourage sustainable agricultural practices for generations to come.

Ana
Ana's children plant a vegetable garden
Ana and her children learn to preserve fruits.
Ana and her children learn to preserve fruits.

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Sep 3, 2014

Micro loans unlock talents

Diana displays her products in March 2014
Diana displays her products in March 2014

Diana is 50 years old and a native of Bedaabour in Ashanti region of Ghana. She is a product of the old Ghanaian education system, in which basic school curricula included practical teaching of home science and technical skills.

Like others her age, Diana learned from a young age how to make dresses with needles. After middle school she became a trader and ‘yaadee yie’; someone who carries sewing machine and move from house to house to mend cloths.

This type of hands-on training for youth was critical for Diana and others like her, but insufficient on its own: she needed access to micro-loans and market avenues as well.

In January 2013, Diana joined Self Help International’s micro-credit program and used her loan to purchase and start selling fabrics to earn additional income. Ready access to fabrics revived knowledge and skills she acquired decades ago as a school girl. Diana tells SHI, “I was never an apprentice seamstress. I am here as a result of needle work lessons I had decades ago and micro loans from SHI.”

She now sews and sells dresses to her community members. An apt businesswoman, she offers to sew dresses at discounted rates for those clients who purchase their fabric from her.

When visited in August 2014, Diana had made dresses that compete favorably in her local market. It is obvious from her designs that she is not only good at cutting and putting fabrics together but she also understands colors.

Diana has 6 children (4 females and 2 males) aged between 9 and 27 years and is able to take good care of them. With the profits earned from her business, she is building a 3-bedroom house to shelter her family and plans to expand her business to be able to train and employ more young women in her community.

Sharing her trade is important to ensuring that future generations of women are able to develop the skills they need to participate in the village economy. Over the past few decades, the educational system of Ghana, like many developing countries, has undergone a transformation aimed at achieving a more efficient system that produces quality human resource to achieve national development. In the process, many practical education programs were cut.  

In the old system, girls were taught to cook delicious local dishes and do needlework, sewing beautiful baby dresses and table cloths, while boys learned to mark and cut wood. The benefits of this type of practical training were enormous. Almost every household had needles which were used to mend torn dresses and it was common to see pupils with patched school uniforms. Though it wasn’t always pleasant to the eye, it saved the family money.

The situation is different today. People, especially those products of the new education system, readily replace their old worn out clothes by purchasing used ones that are imported largely from Europe rather than mending their old clothes. These imports contribute to the collapse of indigenous fabric and dress making industries, and the ever worsening unemployment situation. Current unemployment rate is around 40% and it is not surprising that crime rates are high nowadays.

Women like Diana set a strong example for others of using their talents to advance local industry. There are several other “Dianas” in Ghana who need access to credit in order to unlock their talents as well. Such individuals constitute the much needed growth poles to bring about development in Africa.

Your donation has helped Diana, and many women like her, explore their talent and grow their businesses. Thank you for your generosity.

In August Diana shared some new designs
In August Diana shared some new designs

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Aug 26, 2014

Knowledge, training increase project participation

Brochures distributed to promote water program
Brochures distributed to promote water program

In the last four months, Self-Help International (SHI) staff have visited 45 communities all from the Río San Juan area to promote and present information on CTI-8 chlorinator installation, maintenance and the benefits of clean water.

In an effort to share information, SHI staff members are distributing informational brochures to people in the communities they visit. The brochures provide technical information on the systems as well as testimony from beneficiaries in communities where chlorinators are already in use. Brochures from the Nicaragua Ministry of Health are also being distributed. These brochures describe illnesses that come from drinking contaminated, untreated water.

During recent visits, staff has provided 195 chlorinator tablets to community water committees to be used in the chlorinator systems. Three new chlorinators were installed, one each in the communities of El Tule municipality of San Miguelito, Las Bellezas a municipality of Morrito, and Papaturro municipality of San Carlos. These newly installed systems will provide clean water to 1,785 people.

Including new installations, Self-Help’s clean water program now benefits 30,063 people. That’s is an increase in 1,785 people since April 2014. Beneficiaries of the clean water program tell Self-Help staff that they are happy to have safe water to drink. They also said they are no longer concerned about illnesses and parasites that come with drinking raw water.

Your support has provided these communities with the knowledge and training to improve the quality of water therefore improving the quality of life. Thank you for your generous donation.

Las Bellezas water committee receives training
Las Bellezas water committee receives training
Chlorinator installation in Papaturro
Chlorinator installation in Papaturro

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