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 batt...
Mar 24, 2017

Commuting to Success

Adriana with her new and improved oven
Adriana with her new and improved oven

I am writing to you today about Adriana because she is an outstanding example of how determination and hard work paired with resources and education can help a woman not only provide for her own family, but create employment for other community members to care for their families as well! 

At 49-years-old, she and her husband live in the community of Las Azucenas, a rural community near the Self-Help International office, along with their five adult children, their spouses, and one grandchild, all of whom are dependent on her.

Adriana wanted to stay active in her community, and desired work to improve her life.  She began making tacos, enchiladas, cheese, and natural juices, to sell along with other goods such as sodas.  She sold her products for several months in her local community, and then began to wonder whether she could reach a larger consumer population - and sell more of her products - if she began utilizing the public transportation system to make her sales.  Adriana decided she would give it a try—she woke up earlier than usual to prepare her products, and then each morning, around 10:00am, she would reach the bus that traveled from her community, Las Azucenas, to the Nicaraguan and Costa Rican border, to sell her items. She realized the potential she could have with her businesses if she expanded, so she decided she would sell a larger variety and range of products, allowing her customers to have more food choices for their commutes. Each day she said she would finish working by 4:00 pm, and would feel proud and happy with her active life and work that was consistent and full-time. 

Several months later, Adriana heard of a micro-credit program that supported women in her community.  Wanting to learn more about this program, she came to me and I told her more about how we offer business training and small business loans to help women like her expand their enterprises.  After hearing her ambition to create more business, I knew she was just the type of hardworker we like to partner wish and could gain a lot by starting our training. She was eager to attend as many sessions as she could about our program because after joining, Adriana was learning in other subjects as well, such as basic accounting, hygiene, and marketing.  She learned how to efficiently evaluate herself and her business, while learning new skills in how to better manage it. Adriana demonstrated her knowledge of these program areas by applying them to her business; for example, she now properly serves her products in a hygienic way by utilizing gloves while serving and wearing an apron and net to cover herself.  In addition, she has used the financial skills she has acquired through the program and put it to use.

She has been using her loans to purchase metal sheets to repair her kitchen roof. Her goal is to continue working towards purchasing other materials to improve her kitchen since she wants to upgrade it from a wooden kitchen to a concrete kitchen. Adriana has also expanded her products after using a loan from our program to build herself a more efficient, environmentally friendly oven.  With her improved oven, she now bakes bread, pizza, and cakes, in addition to her previous products.  

Determined is an understatement with Adriana. Aside from taking up all of the trainings she could to improve her work, she also attended agricultural trainings with our Quality Protein Maize (QPM) program at our center so that she could improve the health of her family. When I visited her home, I was surprised by the several fruits and vegetables she successfully has growing in her backyard, making her land useful and productive. Among her garden, were zucchini, squash, cinnamon, corn, and oranges trees.

Adriana told me during the interview,“I am so exciting with my business, because it is going well, so well, that now I am no able to cover all my clients needs and more. I made the decision to hire one young girl to help me sell my products in our community or on the bus, and I pay her a percentage from the sales made (usually around 20%). For example, if she sells $41.38 (USD) worth of products daily, $8.28 for assisting me in my business. I thank God for I am doing well. My business is growing very fast, so I am trying to help another person grow her business and teach her the skills she needs so she can have her own someday.”  

Helping women like Adriana through programs similar to the Micro-Credit Program and the QPM program, not only empowers them to improve their lives, but also helps them better their communities.

When I asked her if she wanted to say anything to the individuals who supported her loans, she responded, “Thank you very much Self-Help International, the Micro – Credit Program and all the people of good heart and good will that are always willing to help the woman from this country, especially us from the rural communities that are in need the most.” She added, “There are so many other women like me that need help with loans, training, and support.  I am so happy that there is a program dedicated to doing just that.

Thank you for your continued support of empowering hundreds of women like Adriana. We're working hard to expand to connect more women with the training and resources they need to create economic opportunities in their communities to help families not only survive, but thrive. 

Adriana standing in her garden at her home
Adriana standing in her garden at her home
Mar 24, 2017

Creating enterprises, ensuring sustainability

Sewing training a success!
Sewing training a success!

At Self-Help, we’re all about helping people help themselves. So after we heard from the girls that they definitely liked the Days for Girls feminine hygiene kits and were using them, and then heard from their mothers and sisters that they wanted kits too, we knew it was time to put our sustainability plan into action. We couldn’t have the women dependent on us; they needed to be able to make the kits themselves.

So last month, Self-Help Ghana hosted a workshop to teach seamstresses in Ghana how to sew the Days for Girls kits for themselves! The women were eager to learn and paid very close attention every step of the way.  Barb Dahlby and Gail Stelmacher were the skilled seamstresses who volunteered to travel to Ghana to teach the women. Here are Gail’s reflections from the workshop:

...

My teaching day had arrived! We traveled to the SHI training center in Nkwakrom for the sewing workshop. It was a long day today, but rewarding. Barb and I met 9 lovely ladies who are seamstress and expressed a desire to learn how to make the Days for Girls sanitary kits.

Lucy, Sara, Dinah, Elizabeth, Olivia, Helena, Hadjara, Sharifa, and Vivian travel from the villages of Kwaso, Adegya, Worapong, Bedaabour, and Nerebehi, carrying their sewing machines and “knitting machines” (sergers) on their heads and babies on their backs.  Seven of the ladies were current members or graduates of Self-Help’s micro-credit program, and two were apprentices who work at Madam Sara’s shop.

The idea was that we would teach these ladies the basic steps in of making the kits. They would then decide if they would be interested in obtaining further instruction so they could make it one of their micro-credit businesses. I had never taught anyone, other than my two boys, how to sew, so I was a little nervous. But then, these ladies are pros at using a sewing machine. The sewing machines were hand crank machines except for one powered by electricity. I was amazed at how fast and accurate the women could sew on the hand crank machines.

Barb and I worked together to tag team the explanation of the how the kit is used and then how to make them. The ladies listened closely as Victoria, Self-Help’s program coordinator in Ghana, translated into Twi. One lady who could speak English, Olivia, asked very good questions along the way.

The women were very open to learning. Every now and then I would have to have them re-do a piece and do it over to ensure it was right, and they did so enthusiastically. Even though most of them did not understand English, I felt I had no trouble helping them learn. It was exciting when they would finish a part correctly and I would give them a smile and two thumbs up. The look of pride was written all over their faces.

After we did the first run through of a shield, Victoria had us give them more fabric and then they were timed to see if they could correctly make a shield without being told how. I was totally impressed. Only one lady needed a very little guidance. Then I “judged” them and the best 3 got prizes! Very cool.

I think they all learned a lot and truly appreciated the lesson. I know it made me feel good to know I could use a God given talent that I have had all my life to help in just this little way.

...

This transfer of knowledge is both helping the women expand their existing sewing operations by creating this new product that’s already in demand, and ensuring that these innovative reusable feminine hygiene kits are available for all women who need them without depending on us to bring the kits over to them.

Thank you for your support, which is financing the business expansion loans for the seamstresses who attended this workshop to purchase materials and surgers so they can create high quality reusable feminine hygiene products. By supporting their businesses, you are ensuring that the women and girls in even remote and rural villages in Ghana can access affordable reusable sanitary kits so they can stay in school and attend to their families' needs every day of the month! 

Trainees are hanging on Gail
Trainees are hanging on Gail's every stitch
Diana learns to make a shield
Diana learns to make a shield
Victoria translates the next instructions
Victoria translates the next instructions
Helena shows off her handiwork
Helena shows off her handiwork
Nora (L) and Gail (R) present Olivia with a prize
Nora (L) and Gail (R) present Olivia with a prize

Links:

Mar 23, 2017

Wow! You're Amazing!

Your support makes us jump for joy!
Your support makes us jump for joy!

In just the last two weeks, you've empowered 70 girls in Ghana to stay in school and escape the cycle of poverty through the GlobalGiving Girl Fund campaign!

At the start of this campaign, we set a target of raising $3,000 from 150 people to empower 20 girls between March 1 - 15.  But you didn't think that was enough.

You donated to empower teen girls AND you went the extra step further and invited your friends, colleagues and family members to join you in empowering teen girls.  You raised the funds to empower those 20 girls in the first week of the campaign alone, and then doubled the impact by inviting your friends to get involved, empowering 50 more girls in the second week!  

THANK YOU!

More than 350 people donated more than $10,500 to empower 70 girls in Ghana in the first two weeks of this month! 

We finished in 5th place, missing out on the $10,000 bonus, but you made a lasting difference for 70 girls in Ghana AND created a race to the top! 

Because our project did so well, the other four projects in contention had to ramp up their efforts to get ahead of us - meaning your support for teen girls in Ghana inspired others to empower more girls in the Dominican Republic, educate more girls in Kenya, sponsor STEM camp for more girls in Nigeria, and help more girls in Vietnam get to school. We're so proud to have been a part of this competition where girls around the world came out as the clear winners.

Thank you so much to every one of you who made this campaign such a success!  We'll be sending you a project report from this same email address in about 6 weeks to let you know exactly how your donations made a difference and the progress the girls are making because of your support.

PS: In our last project report, we promised to share with you the skit that the girls performed during the Teen Girls Club inauguration.  Check out the full photo essay here.

Links:

 
   

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