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...
Dec 1, 2015

Teach me to farm & I'll eat for a lifetime

Training with Dr. Kofi Boa at the No Till Center
Training with Dr. Kofi Boa at the No Till Center

Self-Help International's approach to alleviating hunger in Ghana is to "teach people how to fish" - or in this case how to farm - to better feed their families long after Self-Help is gone. Last year, six farmers (4 women and 2 men) from Bedaabour were trained and given credit for inputs to cultivate two acres of quality protein maize (QPM) each. Based on the successes recorded in improved yields and increased self-sufficiency, twenty more farmers (seven women and thirteen men) were selected in 2015.

All twenty farmers from Beposo, Bedaabour and Fankamawe participated in the improved agronomic training sessions at the No Till Center at Amanchia in March where Dr. Kofi Boa, renowned researcher and agronomist, trained them. The farmers learned, among other things, that to obtain maximum maize yields, every acre requires 10 kilograms (kg) of certified seed, 100 kg of fertilizer (NPK), 50 kg of Sulphate of Ammonia, 1 liter of Nicoplus (herbicide), and 2 liters of Sunphosate (herbicide). In addition to learning that, for rain-fed agriculture, time is of essence.

After the training, the farmers demonstrated a good understanding of the subjects taught during the training sessions, and some even shared their new knowledge and trained their colleague farmers who did not attend the training. But even with this new knowledge, not all of them had the funds necessary to buy the right quantities of inputs to put their knowledge into action and plant on time for the rains.

After seeing the commitment these farmers had to improving their livelihoods by implementing improved farming practices, Self-Help drew up loan agreement documents and provided credit for the inputs needed to ensure farmers could plant on time and repay the loan in kind after harvest. This enabled the farmers to plant on time as well as apply the right quantities of fertilizers and herbicides to maximize yields.

The farmers planted in April and harvested in the first week of August. SHI, together with the farmers, monitored farmlands to ensure strict adherence to the farmers’ trainings. The yield was tremendous compared to past years: double the yields! Typically, farmers from these villages yield between four and six bags of maize per acre, but this season they recorded at least ten bags of quality protein maize (QPM) per acre.

The farmers emphasized that learning and implementing improved agronomic methods to cultivate maize were the key factors in doubling their yields. The farmers tell SHI that they will always choose Obatanpa (an open pollinated variety of QPM) seeds anytime they cultivate maize in the future because is the best out of all of the local varieties in terms of yield and nutrition. Best of all, they also promise to grow more maize to support the school feeding programs in their respective communities.

At harvest time, the market price for a 110 kg bag of maize was GHC120. If sold, it would have resulted in a net loss for the farmer, so SHI collects loans from farmers in kind rather than requiring farmers to market their maize and pay in cash to ensure they do not sell at a loss. Part of this maize will be used to prepare breakfast for pre-school children within the SHI school feeding program, and the rest sold to purchase inputs for farmers next season.

To avoid selling their maize at a loss, farmers must store their remaining maize until the market price increases. Yet storage is a huge challenge facing farmers in Ghana due to inadequate space and storage structures. Self-Help supports farmers with additional loans so they can purchase silos and other storage facilities to ensure they are able to sell their miaze at a profit, and teaches farmers how to treat and store maize properly: removing it from the cob, winnowing and sun drying before storing it stored in silos to prevent spoilage.

Supporting farmers to own silos and other storage facilities helps better their lots and sustain their resolve to contribute to alleviating hunger.  We need your help to continue to educate and serve twenty more farmers in Ghana next year, who are eager to learn improved practices.

Please consider making a recurring monthly donation to Self-Help International to help with day to day costs of the training center. A donation of $20/month will provide training and inputs to three farmers each season so they can better feed their families and their communities for many seasons to come.

SHI providing loans in the form of farm inputs
SHI providing loans in the form of farm inputs
SHI&its farmers monitoring selected farmer
SHI&its farmers monitoring selected farmer's crops
Shelling maize with the new maize sheller
Shelling maize with the new maize sheller
This year
This year's harvest of maize sun drying
Maize stored in silos,awaiting higher market price
Maize stored in silos,awaiting higher market price
Nov 12, 2015

New Work, New Hope, New Home

Lucy selling food in her community.
Lucy selling food in her community.

Lucy is 38 and hails from the northern sector of Ghana. She migrated to the southern sector with her husband in search of greener pastures. Lucy's husband, Kwame, is a farmer and laborer at Bedaabour. They have two children, Ebenezer, who is an eleven-year-old in fourth grade at Bedaabour District Assembly basic school and Isaac, an eight-month-old.

Lucy has been active in the micro-credit program since 2012. When asked about how she joined the Self-Help International (SHI) micro-credit program, Lucy answered “It was through close friends and relatives.” Her first loan was GHC150 (approximately $50), which she invested in her petty trading business. Starting out, she sold groceries on tables but later on she built her own wooden kiosk/stall. To generate additional income to better support her family, Lucy diversified her business and now sells prepared food in her village square daily.

When they first arrived to Bedaabour, Lucy and her family moved to every few months in search of adequate housing. The ongoing search for a suitable shelter continued until a relative offered them a vacant room. Lucy explained to SHI that it is not a decent place for human habitation, but her and her family had no other choice.

Now that Lucy is able to contribute financially towards the upkeep of the children, their home is a more peaceful place with fewer financial stresses. Little by little, Lucy and her husband saved up and secured a piece of land at Bedaabour to put up their own home for the first time since migrating south. They are currently constructing a two-bedroom house where their family will live peacefully, no longer worrying about where they'll move next. 

Lucy plans to invest her next loan in completing their new house, so she and her family can finally move into more dignified living standards. Lucy and her family will enjoy maximum peace once they move into their new home. Ebenezer will have peace and quiet to concentrate on his homework. They will have their privacy living in their own home and, at last, have their own space to spend time together as a family.

There will also be enough space in their future home to allow them to each sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets. This will reduce incidents of malaria in the family, especially among the two children. With reduced cases of malaria in the family, Lucy will spend less time seeking treatment for family members at the hospital, freeing up more time for her business. This gift of increased time will translate into more productive hours at work and greater profit, as well as improved overall finances. Lucy told SHI that this extra income will be spent on her children’s education, and that SHI has made it easier to take proper care of her first priority, her children.

After 15 years of marriage, Lucy is a more supportive wife, a prouder mother, and happier spirit than ever before. She is grateful to SHI and its donors for the support extended to her. This is the transformation the micro-credit program brings into the lives of its beneficiaries: financial empowerment. With access to training and loans, women contribute to the upkeep of the home, earn respect from their husbands, and are better able to support their children and their children’s education. Thank you for your support.  Your donations will help more women like Lucy transform their lives and live with the dignity that all humans deserve. 

Lucy at her stall.
Lucy at her stall.
Lucy pictured at her current place of stay.
Lucy pictured at her current place of stay.
Lucy, Isaac, Kwame and Ebenezer
Lucy, Isaac, Kwame and Ebenezer
Lucy and her nearly complete new 2-bedroom home
Lucy and her nearly complete new 2-bedroom home
Oct 15, 2015

New School Uniforms Call For New Training Classes

New School Uniforms Call For New Training Classes

Thanks to a special designated donation for school supplies and school uniforms to start the new school year, and the support of GlobalGiving donors, Self-Help was able to ensure that students of Treinte de Mayo School and students that are children of women in the Micro-Credit Program were able to get the clothing they needed to start the school year. All while supporting the local economy and micro-credit beneficiaries.

Treinte de Mayo is a particularly depressed shantytown located outside of San Carlos, Nicaragua. There is limited running water and very few families are able to afford school uniforms for their children to attend school. Self-Help saw the need in this community and helped to build a school for pre-school, kindergarten, and first graders to attend since the nearest school was too far away for these young children to walk to.

This uniform order for the new school year not only benefited students of the community who otherwise could not have afforded them, but also the four women of the Micro-Credit Program that were commissioned to make them, and the community as a whole. On September 10, 2015, the beneficiaries and their families gathered at Fred Strohbehn Training Center to receive their new school uniforms. The Self-Help International staff saw this gathering as a perfect opportunity to educate students, their parents, and community members in drug prevention and alcoholism, school bullying, and domestic violence.

To make this possible, Yolanda, the Nicaragua Micro-Credit Program Officer, wrote a letter to the San Carlos police department sheriff requesting some police expertise, and a visit from an officer to teach drug prevention. The police representative was extremely excited to learn that there’s an organization that cares so much about the youth in rural Nicaragua. And so, the representative told Yolanda that the department not only send one officer, but they would send three. That way, each officer could discuss a different topic that is affecting the community’s children.

These topics were: drug prevention and alcoholism, school bullying, and domestic violence. The three female police officers that visited to conduct these classes were delighted and impressed to find that the training center was full of children accompanied by their mothers and fathers. Each student, along with their parents, were paying close attention to what the officers were saying, as well as participating in dicussion. This resulted in an extremely successful, interactive, and progressive experience for all that were involved.

After the training was complete, each student received their uniforms. It was plain to see from the students’ huge smiles how ecstatic they truly were to have new uniforms for the new school year. Even the police officers thanked Self-Help as well as the all of the people that were making this possible by supporting Self-Help through donations.

A training session of this kind, with such substantial outreach to so many families, would not have been possible without a place to host it in, the training center. The Fred Strohbehn Training Center and all of its training sessions, of the past and future, are due to Self-Help’s generous and caring donors. Thank you to our donors for the support that has made this and all other trainings possible to improve education and quality of life for residents of Rio San Juan.


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