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...
Aug 1, 2014

Hands-on training for youth

Studentsof St. Peter
Studentsof St. Peter's Jr. High prepare compost

Things I hear I forget. Things I see I remember. Things I do I understand.

In May 2014 during the 53rd Diocesan Synod of the Kumasi Diocese of the Methodist Church in Ghana, the Right Reverend Professor Osei Safo-Kantanka, Methodist Bishop of the Kumasi Diocese, added his voice to calls for Ghana to focus on hands-on training for the youth.

He reiterated “the country cannot develop if we do not develop our hands-on technical and vocational education.” He advocates for scholarships to be given to students pursuing technical and vocational education.

The Ghanaian system of education coupled with limited financial resources has compelled many, especially public schools to rely heavily on text books for teaching and learning. Teaching of subjects such as information and computer technology, engineering, agricultural science are about 70 percent textbook-based with limited opportunities for practice. This has adverse effects on the quality of Ghanaian graduates; they hardly fit into the job market let alone being prepared to start their own small operation. This has contributed to an unemployment rate of more than 40 percent among graduates and low gross domestic product.

From afar the situation looks hopeless but it is never too late to make amends. People trained at the Frances Mueller and Virginia Lageschulte Training Center (FMVLTC) are proving that people understand better and are more willing to practice when given hands-on training.

Kofi is 28 years old and a pupil teacher. In 2013, in his quest to earn higher income, he enrolled at the University College of Education in Kumasi-Ghana but withdrew due to financial challenges. He enrolled at the FMVLTC in June 2014 and is currently raising rabbits. He now has a reliable supply of protein for his family and additional income to continue his education.

St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Junior High School at Toase received training at the center in March 2014. After the training the headmistress, Mrs. Mary Magdalene Wompakeah, was more convinced than ever before of the need for hands-on training and won the confidence of the PTA for the school to continue practical education at the center. Currently, the school is embarking on mushroom production in collaboration with FMVLTC. The children are enthused about the fact that mushroom production is well within their capabilities.

Traditionally, Ghana’s supply of mushrooms have come from the wild but this source has witnessed a sharp decline in recent times and the need to find a reliable supply is urgent. Mushrooms, snails, and cocoyam, though seasonal, used to be in abundance a decade ago but have witnessed population decline due to climatic changes and use of agro-chemicals which in many cases are wrongfully applied due to inadequate hands-on training in their application. With proper training there is great opportunity for students pursing mushroom cultivation today.

Because of your support many young students have the opportunity to receive hands-on training and acquire new, useful skills through the Frances Mueller and Virginia Lageschulte Training Center. Like Kofi, they can put their new skills to use to better provide for their families future. Thank you for your generous donation.

Rt. Rev. Prof Osei Safo Kantanka
Rt. Rev. Prof Osei Safo Kantanka
Kofi with the rabbits he is raising.
Kofi with the rabbits he is raising.

Links:

Jul 31, 2014

Training and strategy help grow Martha's business

Martha selling her products at the local market
Martha selling her products at the local market

Beneficiary from El Espabel - Melchorita

Martha is a 61-year-old woman working with Self-Help’s micro-credit program. She and her husband, Alfredo, have seven children. Three of them are grown and have left the home. Four children, age nine to 21-years-old, are still living at home.

Martha uses her loan to purchase a variety of products such as corn, beans, avocados, eggs, zucchini, coconuts, and dairy products among others to sell for a profit at the local market in San Carlos.

Martha is also applying the training she and her children received from the micro-credit program to her business. The family is gardening and using an irrigation system to grow vegetables, hot peppers, papaya, passion fruits, and zucchini among others. Martha is saving money and time as she no longer needs to visit other communities to purchase these products. Instead, she is harvesting her own produce to sell fresh at the market. Martha also received Self-Help’s training on pickling vegetables and making jams and marmaldes. If in any case she can’t sell her fresh produce, she can add value to the unsold products by using them in marmalades, jellies or by pickling the vegetables. These products can also be sold at market for a profit.

In addition, Martha learned basic bookkeeping skills through Self-Help’s trainings. She now understands when she is making a profit, whereas before the training she didn’t keep records and know if she was earning money or losing money. Martha knows that she will expend about 600 cordobas, around $23, per week on the value of her products to be purchased. Plus she is including the expenses for her personal needs such as meals and transportation. This was not something she calculated into her expenses before. Now Martha can see the profit and with it she helps her husband with the upkeep on the house and contributes to their children’s education.

Martha said she is really thankful for Self-Help International and the donors for allowing her the opportunity to learn new skills and providing her with a strategy to grow personally as well as economically. She is pleased that her family has also learned to contribute to her business through caring for their garden and irrigation system.

Your support has provided Martha, and others like her, with the proper tools to grow her small business and include her family in its success. Thank you for your generous donation.

Martha and her daughter in their garden
Martha and her daughter in their garden

Links:

Jul 7, 2014

Feeding Program Builds Communal Spirit

Enrollment has increased since the program began.
Enrollment has increased since the program began.

It is a common practice for schools to have Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs). Such associations exist to meet and plan together with the school board. It is however uncommon for members of the association to come together and work with their hands. The feeding program in most participating communities is helping to change the trend. Parents now come together and farm to make sure there is a regular supply of maize to support the program. A member of the Kontomire PTA, John, tells Self-Help the school farm has helped to strengthen communal spirit; parents are getting to know each other much better. He hopes that it extends to the larger community to encourage implementation of community projects like construction of latrines and safe drinking water sources. Projects like these will help reduce the incidents of disease and illness.

John recounted the commitment with which the association rallied behind the idea of building a kitchen for the school. The kitchen is needed to make sure the cooking is done in a safe and hygienic environment, and without any disruption from rains. Construction is ongoing but they now have a roof and some protection from the rain.

The community tells SHI they have seen improvement in school enrollment, especially among Kindergarten 1 (KG1) and Kindergarten 2 (KG2), and Class 1. Enrollment increased from 139 in term two to 158 in term three representing a growth of 13 percent. More children now attend school. The challenge to provide breakfast for children before going to school is being addressed by the feeding program and relieves parents of worry.

In June 2014, SHI interviewed two KG1 children; Janet and Victoria, both six-years-old.

Janet eats breakfast before going to school but her friend Victoria goes to school each morning on an empty stomach. Both of them eat the QPM breakfast SHI provides. Janet says the food makes her strong while Victoria says she is able to concentrate on her studies much better. Victoria and children like her would not go to school without the feeding program. The feeding program has contributed to increased enrollment and attendance and helps less fortunate children like Victoria.

Increased enrollment, though positive has exposed another weakness in the school; infrastructure. The school does not have enough classrooms and furniture to cater for the growing number of children in the community who want to go to school. However, with the growing enthusiasm and spirit in the community, the possibility of the community coming together to build more classrooms could be a reality.

Your support has helped this community, and others like it, come together to provide food for their children. Thank you for your donation.

Janet, age 6
Janet, age 6
Victoria, age 6
Victoria, age 6

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