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 16, 2015

Clean water & new restrooms at training center

New addition and water tank installation
New addition and water tank installation

The Fred Strohebhn Training Center in Nicaragua now has a new water tank installed to provide clean, safe drinking water to hundreds of trainees! Thanks to the generosity of donors to this project, there were sufficient funds to not only install a new water tank, but also new restrooms at the training center.

Self-Help’s Nicaragua training center opened its doors in late 2013 to provide practical hands-on training to empower the rural poor – especially women – to better provide for their families. It serves as the main office for Self-Help’s staff trainers and is the main location where water chlorinators are built and promoted. Yet in July, we discovered that the water tower on the premises was rotting and had become a breeding grounds for moquitos and bacteria. Staff and trainees experienced illnesses caused by the untreated water available.  Thanks to your generous support, we received sufficient funds to fix this problem by Thanksgiving.

The first water tank was made with wood and sat atop a high tower, which made cleaning and regular maintenance difficult and unsafe. With the funds donated by GlobalGiving supporters, we were able to construct a new water tower from concrete as planned.  Having learned from the problems of the previous tank, the new water tower is made of concrete instead of wood, and two small filters were installed to clean the debris – including mosquito larvae – from the drinking water.

As always, to maximize the benefit of this new construction project, the bottom of the water tower was used to construct new restroom facilities to promote good sanitation and hygiene.  We installed two toilets and one sink for handwashing, and will complete construction of the door and window for privacy in the coming months.  The bathrooms inside the building are now used just for the ladies, and the more basic newly constructed facilities are for use by the men. In the photos below, you can see the newly constructed shed/restrooms below the water tank.

With limited funds available and so much need around us, nothing at our training center goes to waste.  The initial water storage tank that used to be at the top of the rotting tower will now be re-purposed to help train farmers and women in the micro-credit program about gardening how to use drip irrigation to grow produce even in the dry season.

The final step in this project will be for Orlando, our clean water project officer, to install the CTI-8 water chlorinator in the new water tank.  Orlando has been very traveling to Nueva Guinea and Muelles de Los Buelles to install CTI-8 systems for rural communities, but we expect that work to slow down as the holidays approach so we will be able to install the CTI-8 system then.

Thank you for your support, which is providing clean water for our staff and trainees so we can put into practice what we preach about good hygiene and sanitary practices, and provide safe water for all trainees who come to learn at our training center. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

New sanitation facility
New sanitation facility
New men
New men's restroom at training center
New water tank installed with restrooms below
New water tank installed with restrooms below

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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
 
   

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