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...
May 22, 2015

Adding value to avoid post-harvest losses

Teofilo with his drip irrigation system
Teofilo with his drip irrigation system

After hearing about the successes experienced at the Fred Strohbehn Training Center, the farmers that Self-Help works with in Ochomogo began asking for a value-added training sessions as well. We invited the seed producers, members of the Norman Borlaug Ochomogo Community Seed Bank, and their wives to participate in a training session for SHI's new gardening program that uses drip irrigation. This was the first time the women had been involved in the activities of the seed bank. 

Most of the women said that they would like to come to participate in the training session and be part of the program as well as they can use these new skills when they have free time in their homes. Teófilo, a farmer who lives in the community of Luz del Mañana, located 16 kms from the seed bank, came to the training. Teófilo had to ride two buses to attend the session. The first one was taken at 6:00 a.m., it’s the only one they have in his community which gets to the main road, then he took a second bus which gets to Ochomogo, and then he walked all the way  to the Seed Bank with 70 pounds of habaneros peppers in his shoulders.

Teófilo was determined and wanted to learn how to add value to his peppers. He has a plantation of habanero hot peppers on his farm and sometimes he experiences post-harvest loss when he can’t sell them all before they spoil. He was really excited to hear that Self-Help can teach him how to take advantage of all the peppers by making hot pepper sauce and pickling vegetables

For the first training session, Teófilo brought around 18 pounds of habaneros peppers to share with the rest of the group since they didn’t have anything to work with.. For the second training he brought around 70 pounds of habanero peppers.

SHI staff also worked on the design of the labels for the hot pepper sauce, and purchased all the plastic containers to package them. The label shows the name of the peppers being used, the name of the seed bank, the name of each community involved and information about Self-Help International.

From the 70 pounds of hot peppers,Teófilo and the farmers made 160 units of hot sauce in plastic containers

There are still details to work out such as the date of production, the expiration date, the percentage of preservatives we need to apply on the products, the sanitary issues among others. As for right now, priority for SHI staff is making sure that all famrers start implementing hot peppers in their own gardens so they have the products in their homes instead of buying it.                   

At the next field day training session at the Ochomogo Seed Bank farmers learned how to work with an irrigation system and how to manage it. Together with staff, attendees worked on the drip irrigation system at the seed bank.

In the future, SHI staff plans to help farmers implement the drip irrigation system on their own farms and in gardens. Teófilo is one of the first users of this new technology to ensure he has a year-round supply of habanero chili peppers to sell.

Your donation has helped farmers, like Teófilo, grow their businesses by using new technology and including value-added products. Thank you for your support.

Teofilo's crops
Habanero label
Habanero label
Demonstration plot at Ochomogo Seed Bank
Demonstration plot at Ochomogo Seed Bank
Teofilo displays bottles of his sauce
Teofilo displays bottles of his sauce
May 19, 2015

SHI Clean Water Program celebrates World Water Day

World Water Day at Nicaragua Training Center
World Water Day at Nicaragua Training Center

Self-Help’s Clean Water Program led the CAPS in the rural communities in the celebration of the World Water Day on March 22, 2015 by promoting experience exchanges among communities currently using the CTI-8 technology and communities seeking to learn more. Self-Help hosted two grand celebrations in honor of World Water Day with the CAPS from Nueva Guinea and Rio San Juan.

 Nueva Guinea, March 24, 2015

World Water Day was met with great success in Nueva Guinea, RAAS, Nicaragua where we had the participation of 30 Community Clean Water Committee (CAPS) members, 71 people from different communities, local authorities including Mr. Francisco Miranda Villachica from the Mayor’s office (UMAS) and Dr. Fernando Canales Alemán from the Environmental Department, the Director of the Ministry of Health (SILAIS-MINSA) from Zelaya Central, and Mrs. Nicolasa Jarquín from Epidemiology from MINSA, TV and radio journalists, as well as Mr. Sergio Romero Alvarado, the CTI Nicaragua Country Director as well as Self-Help’s Country Director Mr. Jorge Campos Solís and Program Officer Orlando Montiel Salas.

We shared with people an educational video regarding the CTI maintenance, good use of the purified water, and the positive impact the CTI-8 Chlorinator is having in the communities already installed, as well as the challenges the organization and CAPS area are facing with regard to clean water all over Nicaragua. Among the topic discussed were: Importance of the Potable water, weather changes, Sanitation and Environment Health, microbiology and treatment of the water for human use, emphasizing on the use of CTI-8 chlorinator in the rural gravity aqueduct. Most of the CAPS members agreed that installing the CTI-8 Chlorinator would benefit their communities, and 10 of them immediately asked for an initial visit by the Self-Help Program Officer for Clean Water to explore the possibilities for installation starting as soon as in April 2015.

It is a great challenge for Self-Help to serve all of this southeastern side of the country, since it is over 200 kms distance from the main office at Quinta Lidia, and requires travel over unpaved dirt roads that are in bad shape. Nevertheless, our goal is to serve all the rural areas where the need for clean, safe drinkable water is great, for the good of the rural people who we know will be grateful to have such a beneficial opportunity.

World Water Day, Day 2, hosted at Self-Help’s Fred Strohbehn Training Center in Quinta Lidia, March 26, 2015

During this gathering, in attendance were 10 CAPS and 17 participants from the communities of El Castillo, San Carlos and Morrito, a technician from San Carlos Mayor office (UMAS) Mr. Uriel Camacho Obando, Mr. Francisco Ochomogo Pilarte from ENACAL (water company) from Río San Juan, Dr. Flavio Rodríguez from Epidemiology MINSA and technician from Fundación del Río (River Foundation) and ASODELCO which are NGO’s that works in benefits of the water. During this event, we also had the participation of Mr. Sergio Romero Alvarado Nicaragua Country Director from partner organization CTI, who spoke on the topic of Environmental Health and Sanitation, as well as the history of CTI-8 water chlorinator. Self-Help’s Country Director Mr. Jorge Campos Solís shared how important is to have organized the CAPS in Río San Juan, and the Program Officer Mr. Orlando Montiel Salas shared how to manage the water treatment with the CTI-8 technology.

At the end of the two days of World Water Day conferences, we felt satisfied to know that more people from both Rio San Juan and Nueva Guinea had the opportunity to learn more about the new CTI-8 technology, and are welcoming the Program Officer for Clean Water, to study the area, help the communities determine the need for potable water, and assist with installation of the chlorinator for their communities benefit. As expected, April proved to be a busy month as most of the CAPS from Nueva Guinea requested to learn more about the CTI-8 prior to the installation.

In March we also installed one CTI-8 chlorinator at Empalme Los Sánchez, San Miguelito – Rio San Juan.

In this community, the water fills the tank by gravity. The community used to have problem with accessing good quality water, and they used to rely on just one well which didn’t provide either enough water or the appropriate hygienic conditions for the people to drink. The women had to walk long distance to bring water for their families’ member to drink, wash dishes and do laundry. So the San Miguelito Mayor’s office installed a new water tank with a CTI-8 chlorination system.

Now, people are really thankful because they are getting potable water and most important clean water by using the CTI-8 Chlorinator, ensuring the water is safe for human consumption. This new installation is benefitting over 200 people, including 35 families in 30 homes, and preventing waterborne diseases and parasites. Please below see the photos of the installation of the chlorinator as well as the chart on detail with the system and it benefit.

Your donation has made it possible for Self-Help to educate rural villages on the benefits of clean water and help them to provide water that is safe for human consumption. Thank you for your support!

World Water Day in Nueva Guinea
World Water Day in Nueva Guinea
CTI installation in El Empalme Los Sanchez
CTI installation in El Empalme Los Sanchez


May 1, 2015

In their own words: Emma and Julia

Emma prepares enchiladas at the restaurant
Emma prepares enchiladas at the restaurant

In March 2015 Self-Help staff interviewed two business partners from the Laurel Galan community, Emma and Julia. The women later wrote their stories, in their own words, in an effort to share their hard work and express how they have benefitted from Self-Help's Micro-Credit Program.

Below we have shared the translated letters from Julia and Emma. We have also included a photo of Julia's original letter.

Your support has given women like Julie and Emma the confidence to start and grow their own businesses. Thank you for your donation.


Emma's Letter

My name is Emma, I’m 33 years old and I live in the Laurel Galan community. Laurel Galan is about 3 km from the Self-Help office in Quinta Lidia. I’m a beneficiary in the Micro-Credit Program and I’ve been in the program since November 2013. I just received my third loan of $100USD. I invested the first loan in my business by buying tools and materials to open a bakery. The tools included a beater, 4 cookie cutters and some food coloring, all of which I was unable to afford before the loan. When I received my second loan, I teamed up with another woman in the program who lives nearby; we combined our loans and together we opened a small eatery. The majority of our customers are workers who stop by between 2:00pm and 9:00 or 10:00 at night. We make enchiladas, repochetas, fried chicken, grilled meat, fried dough, buñuelos, candies and chicken soup. With our loans, we bought materials that were of high priority in our new business, like a meat presser,a drip pan, two ladles and a draining spoon. Again, with our third loan, we purchased supplies to further grow our business. Specifically,we bought 2 pails,a grater,and 3 seats and a table.

I feel very content and thankful to be part of a program that has provided us the opportunity to follow our entrepreneurial spirits, and that continues to motivate us to better our small businesses. Through the program we’ve also been able to learn various skills such as business administration, how to make jams andwreaths, how to start and maintain a garden and many more.

I’m thankful to all the donors who support this program in our country and who understand that we are hardworking, entrepreneurial women with powerful wishes to better the lives of our families.

Thank you.



Julia's Letter

My name is Julia and I’ve been a participant in the Micro-credit program since November 2013. I live in Laurel Galan, a community about 5 minutes from the Self-Help office in Quinta Lidia. I’ve received 3 loans now. With the first loan, I bought zinc for my home and, with the remaining money, I bought supplies for my business. With my business partner, Emma Mondragon, a local professor and friend, I sell enchiladas, tacos, fried dough, repocheta and meats off the grill. The second loan provided the money we needed to buy more supplies to improve and grow our business, like two large cooking pots. We used the third loan to buy 3 seats and a table. By combining our money, we are able to buy supplies and continue to expand our business. We feel very proud and motivated to be a part of this program because, not only do we receive loans, but we have learned so much in the associated training classes. Using the skills we learned in Self-Help trainings, we have been able to grow and maintain our home gardens, which have benefitted us greatly. We are also very thankful to all the donors who support us here in Nicaragua and who never forget that we work hard and have a great deal of appreciation. Thank you to Self-Help and all of its supporters.


Front table of their Fritanga (fast-food stop).
Front table of their Fritanga (fast-food stop).
Julia's letter
Front table of their Fritanga (fast-food stop).
Front table of their Fritanga (fast-food stop).



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