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...
Sep 19, 2016

Clean Water- Not Just a Drop in the Bucket

Abigail with her child, discussing clean water
Abigail with her child, discussing clean water

Thanks to your support, we were able to install the 88th water chlorination system in southern Nicaragua, bringing clean, safe drinking water to 10,724 families. We know our work is not yet done, but we’re now more than half way to our goal of ensuring 20,000 families have safe drinking water every day – and all the health benefits that come with it.

I’m often asked, but how long does a system last?  Well, since it’s made with locally available, affordable, and easily replaceable parts…indefinitely.  In addition to bringing clean water to several new communities this summer, I’ve been visiting communities whose systems were installed several years ago to check up on the maintenance and how things are going.

One such community was La Esperanza No. 1, in Rio San Juan, Nicaragua, a community of 1,120 people. La Esperanza No. 1 installed a CTI-8 water chlorination system in July 2013. I visited with Abigail, Treasurer of the Drinking Water and Sanitation Committee, who proudly reported, “There have been significant decreases of diarrhea and kidney infections in the people of La Esperanza.”

Abigail has lived in this community for over 16 years with her two daughters. As she nursed her two-week-old baby, Abigail and her neighbor Candida commented on the faint smell of chlorine in their water when they use it to prepare meals. They say it’s a refreshing way of reminding them they can feed their families with confidence, knowing that the chlorine is killing the parasites.

Before installing the CTI-8 chlorinator system, the women said that their children were consistently suffering from diarrhea, but now things are different.  To find out exactly how successful the chlorinator is working in the community, I spoke with a doctor named Alexander, head of the La Esperanza No. 1 Health Center.

“Zero cases,” stated the doctor, “…there have been zero cases of diarrhea in children or any adults since the chlorinator has reached every household.”

That means less school missed, fewer cases of parasites, and fewer kidney infections for the children living in these neighborhoods.  For over three years, the community of La Esperanza No. 1 municipality of San Carlos has experienced better health conditions thanks to the installation of Self-Help’s CTI-8 Chlorinator.

After learning that there are no cases of diarrhea now, the two women smiled and replied, “We’re happy knowing that we’re drinking clean and safe water…thank you for bringing the CTI-8 chlorinator to us.”

Thank you for your support of our work to bring clean water to families like Abigail’s. As you consider how you can make an impact in the world, please consider supporting this project on Wednesday, September 21, when will be offering $60,000 in matching funds for gifts made to this project! Learn more about the details here.

Sep 16, 2016

Meet Jering

About 32 miles by motorcycle from Self-Help’s Nicaragua office, lies a small and vibrant community called Las Azucenas. In a small and quiet neighborhood, accessed only by walking down a mud-covered and gravely path, lives a young woman with an idea way ahead of her time. Her name is Jering. At the age of 17, not even having finished high school yet, she sells Avon products and cosmetics after school hours and during the weekends. When she’s not doing homework, Jering is constructing ways to grow her new business of selling clothing with a loan through Self-Help’s micro-credit program.

By inquiring and conversing with other women, she has taught herself how to be successful in the clothing business.  In order to start selling stylish clothes, she has to first take a bus from her small community to the bus terminal in San Carlos (30 minutes away). She then takes a bus to Managua (over 8 hours) to select the clothing. Once she arrives by bus, she has to pay for a taxi to take her to the chain of stores located in the heart of the city to go shopping. If she does not take the 2am bus to get back to her home in San Carlos, she will have to find a place to spend the night in Managua until there is another bus the following morning.

Although she is capable of receiving a hefty profit with this business, transportation is extremely costly. The price for a one-way bus ticket is 150 Córdobas ($5), and a taxi is roughly 120 Córdobas each way ($4). She will have to spend 500 - 600 Córdobas ($18 - $20 dollars) in transportation costs alone for her trip. Because of your financial support, she will be able to make that first initial voyage to Managua. With the money she will receive from selling clothes, she will be able to pay her loan back quickly and increase production to match the current demand in communities.

You may be wondering where Jering learned to have such an ambitious and innovative nature. I was able to find that answer with just a quick visit to her home. The family owns an outdoor oven that not only serves as a way to bake, but also as a mechanism to dry and store firewood during the rainy seasons, and as a personal clothing and shoe dryer.

Yes, you read that right:
a shoe dryer.
The family does a lot with very little.

Instead of trying to use her earnings towards materialistic items, Jering is saving all of her money for her education. Having a father who works tediously as a farmer, and a mother who walks the entire town twice a week to sell baked goods, she wants to obtain a bachelor's degree. She admires her parents' strength, and sees education as a new path forward out of such backbreaking work.

Living with her two parents, two sisters, and an older brother, Jering assists her family with household chores and tends to the animals in their backyard. Like Jering, her mother is a beneficiary of Self-Help’s micro-credit program. Her mother taught her how to sell cosmetics and earns a sufficient salary selling sweet bread in order to purchase school uniforms and supplies for her other children.

Empowered women empower women. 

Jering and her mother are prime examples of the magnitude of the effects of Self-Help’s mission. Self-Help lends a hand to help women and their families get on their feet and start their dream businesses. The women learn important and necessary business skills through several trainings from Self-Help staff. Workshops are also provided to build women’s self-esteem. Most importantly, women learn sustainable practices to ensure the success of their business.  The success of this training speaks for itself—Self-Help’s micro-credit program has a success rate of almost 90%  with the women’s first loan and the program has been thriving since 2011.

Fifty dollars doesn’t just buy a few bus tickets. It provides hope. It provides a way to lift these families out of poverty so that their children will not have to choose between healthy meals and clean uniforms.Jering is the future of women in Nicaragua. She inspires young girls and proves that girls are never too young to start their dreams.

Join us in empowering more women like Jering! Make a donation now, or mark your calendar to make a gift on Wednesday, September 21during the GlobalGiving Match Day! Details on the matching funds are available here

Jering's oven used as a dryer during rainy seasons
Sep 15, 2016

Why I Care and Why You Should Too- Maribel's Story

Maribel dreams of selling her home-made tamales
Maribel dreams of selling her home-made tamales

Why I care and why you should too.   

Imagine standing in an overcrowded bus aisle without any air conditioning on a humid 95-degree day. The bus is made to sit 40, but there’s 75 people struggling like you to get to work, so you reluctantly chose to pay and climb on, rather than wait for a bus that may not come by this stop again. The route over the unpaved mud-covered roads makes for a bumpy trip, so you tighten your grip, clinging to your basket filled of baked goods to sell (making sure you don’t lose any potential profits).

You’re tired. Because your commute takes over an hour, you reflect on your morning—how you woke up early to get your children dressed. You feel remorseful. A few days earlier, you had to make the tough decision to send them to school with a new school uniform, knowing that because of the cost, it meant you’d have to feed them less nutritious meals this month. But you justified this, knowing they’d be fed something, and didn’t want them to be made fun of by their peers at school.

Tired. Uncertain. Making sacrifices. This is an average morning for women like Maribel.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. And it shouldn’t—having to choose between necessities leaves mothers uncertain they made the best choice they could. No one wants to feel that way.

Often times, I meet people who want to help—offering to purchase their textbooks, notebooks, or other school supplies. And although this is a wonderful deed, one has to wonder why the children don’t already have them? Why can’t the mothers afford to buy them?

I spent three months working with mothers and their families in Nicaragua, soaking it all in, in order to understand how I could help these communities. Giving fifty dollars to support one woman jump start her business goes a long way. Women like Maribel know their family’s needs, have a vision and business plan, and have darn good homemade recipes for their business (in Maribel’s case, it’s her amazing tamales). When a group of 15 women come together to the training center in Ochomogo, they bring hope for a brighter future, encourage one another and serve as role models for their daughters. Micro-credit loans empower women so that they don’t have to sacrifice, wondering if they picked the right necessity. Mothers can have both, and as they watch their daughters grow, know that they will have options too. We’re working to ensure that fifteen more women will break the cycle of poverty and become leaders in communities. It’s about sustainability, and lending a hand to women who have to make tough choices everyday.
This is why I care – and why I’m writing to you now, to ask you to join in our mission to give opportunities to those who have none.

Your one-time gift of $50 will offer an initial startup loan to a woman to create a small business.
Your one-time gift of $140 will sponsor business training for one woman in Ochomogo to learn how to start her business.
Your recurring gift of $20 / month covers all training & loans for one year.

If you want to learn more or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email at or by phone at (401) 489-9471.


Jacqueline Steinkamp
SHI Communications & Development Officer


donate now:

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?

Reviews of Self-Help International

Great Nonprofits
Read and write reviews about Self-Help International on
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.