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...
Apr 27, 2016

Sandra Takes Control

Sandra, February 2016
Sandra, February 2016

"NO MATTER THE SITUATION, YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE IT"

Sandra is a forty-year-old woman from Kwaso, a rural community in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Sandra dropped out of junior high school at age 19 when she became pregnant with her first and only child. Girls are not allowed to go to school while pregnant, and there was never an opportunity to go back to school to complete her education after her son was born. She resorted to selling fruits to earn a living.

Sandra was never able to marry the man who impregnated her because her family refused to give him her hand in marriage because of existing tribal conflicts between the two families, and the fact that Sandra was not ready for marriage at the time. It is a source of pain for Sandra that after her son was born, he went to live with his father, apart from Sandra since she was struggling to provide for him on her own. 

Returns from the sale of fruits were not encouraging and so Sandra’s mother taught her to prepare kenkey, a fermented corn-based food, for sale. Sandra would wake up very early in the morning to prepare and sell kenkey in her community and assist her mother by working on her farm. She used earnings from her kenkey business to provide for herself. Sandra’s mother, who incidentally raised Sandra as a single mother herself, was a member of Self-Help International (SHI) micro-credit program at Kwaso. She introduced Sandra to Madam Olivia, the leader of the group at Kwaso, who then invited Sandra to SHI’s micro-credit program to improve her financial situation.

Sandra joined the micro-credit program in 2012 and took out her first loan of GHC 100 (US $25).  She continued to work hard selling kenkey to make ends meet, though it was a struggle.  Then in May and June 2015, SHI micro-credit program organized a series of training sessions to teach women at Kwaso to make additional businesses out of beads, including how to make earrings, necklaces, bracelets and casual flip-flop sandals locally called “Charlie”. “Charlie” is a type of rubber slip-on designed to be worn when bathing. Recently most people have learned to modify the designs on the slip-on and now it serves other purposes as well. “Charlie” can now be worn to many places such as markets, church, and funerals.

After the workshops, Sandra decided to make a business out of the beads by making and selling decorative ‘charlie’ sandals during special occasions, especially funerals. Since last August, Sandra now has two sources of income: vending kenkey and selling “Charlie.” Sandra has built her creditworthiness up to now taking out a loan of GHC 600 (US $150), which she invests in her two businesses. 

Last August, Self-Help organized additional training sessions on the importance of savings, how to save up, and then helped fifty-nine women to open their very first bank accounts. After years of living hand-to-mouth, Sandra now has a formal savings account with a commercial bank!

By dint of hard work, Sandra has been able to save some money to acquire a piece of land, and she is preparing to build a house and move out of her family home for the first time. Sandra is self-reliant now. She is a proud woman who feels empowered by Self-Help and the lovely people surrounding her. She believes SHI micro-credit and her family’s support has brought her this far. She is forever grateful to SHI and its donors across the globe. 

Mother's Day is next Sunday, May 8. Why not give your mother or grandmother the gift of empowering a woman like Sandra in her honor? When you make a gift to this project, you'll empower a mother in need - plus it's easy to print a card to let mom know what you've done in her honor!

Learning beadmaking, May 2015
Learning beadmaking, May 2015
Learning beadmaking, June 2015
Learning beadmaking, June 2015
Showing off at Sept 2015 Women
Showing off at Sept 2015 Women's Leadership Summit
Sandra proudly shows off her charlies
Sandra proudly shows off her charlies
Apr 18, 2016

100 Healthier Families Thanks to You!

Clean Water Committee leader Henry and sons
Clean Water Committee leader Henry and sons

Wow!  Thanks to the generosity of the five families who invested in this project, the 100 families in Villa Álvarez, El Almendro now have clean, safe drinking water! 

Thanks to your five families, the children no longer suffer from regular bouts of acute diarrheal disease.  Thanks to you, they now spend their time in the classroom, not the health clinic.

Several months ago, members of the of the Villa Álvarez Clean Water Committee came together with other Clean Water Committees in El Almendro municipality to learn from the Self-Help about the CTI-8 water chlorination system and how it works to eliminate biological contaminants in the water. The committee was eager to get clean water to their community, and to install this PVC-pipe-based system in particular for its affordability and effectiveness at purifying the water in the 12,600 gallon tank their community uses.

Because of your sponsorship, Self-Help’s Clean Water Program Officer, Orlando, was able to conduct the preliminary study and analysis of the characteristics of the existing water tank, determinedthe best way to construct and install the CTI-8 system, and teach Henry, a member of the clean water committee, and his sons how to install and maintain the system to ensure that the whole community can access clean, safe drinking water on a daily basis.  He also taught the community about basic handwashing and sanitation now that they have regular access to clean water so they can take advantage of all of the health benefits that access to clean water provides.

Villa Álvarez is about 55 miles away from the Self-Help offices, but it takes more than an hour and a half to reach the community by car or motorbike due to poor road quality.  Your generous financial support covered the costs associated with fuel and transportation to and from the community during the analysis, installation, educational, and follow up visits, as well as the time and materials for staff to train the clean water committees, and for the chlorinator system itself.

The community will repay the cost of the chlorinator ($150) in installments over the coming months to ensure community ownership over the system. Those repaid funds will be placed into a revolving fund to purchase the materials for to construct a CTI-8 chlorinator for the next community in need, so your gift will keep on giving!

Already, your gift of clean water has reduced the incidence of acute diarrheal disease, enabling children to spend time in school, not the health clinic, and empowering their parents to live healthier, more productive lives.  On behalf of the the Clean Water Committee of Villa Álvarez, thank you for this life-changing gift! 

Henry and sons installing water chlorinator
Henry and sons installing water chlorinator
Orlando shows Henry how to build chlorinator
Orlando shows Henry how to build chlorinator
Installing the CTI8 Water Chlorinator
Installing the CTI8 Water Chlorinator
Orlando, Henry & son with new chlorinator
Orlando, Henry & son with new chlorinator
Distance to reach Villa Alvarez
Distance to reach Villa Alvarez

Links:

Mar 22, 2016

Would you give your child dirty water to drink?

Walter Acevedo CAPS Leaders with new chlorinator
Walter Acevedo CAPS Leaders with new chlorinator

...Juan wouldn't either.  Here's his story: 

In Februrary 2014, Self-Help's Clean Water Program Officer made the trek to Walter Acevedo, a town of 2,500 people that is hidden away behind masses of lush forest life, only accessible by an extensive stretch of muddy, rocky road.  Orlando was there to meet with CAPS (Comité de Agua Potable y Saneamiento  -- Clean Water & Sanitation Committee) leaders and present the benefits of water purification via chlorination with the CTI-8 system. CAPS president Roberto Martínez Aguirre told him that the town had begun chlorinating their water over a year previously, but the system had broken down, so they needed help to find a system that was more appropriate for their community.  Last summer, student intern Mack Thompson visited Walter Acevedo to check in on how things were going 16 months later.

Roberto began by explaining the context when he met Orlando, saying, “We purchased our first system, an electric chlorinator, for USD $400 but it stopped working correctly after 7 or 8 months." Roberto and fellow CAPS members Juan García and Francisco Orozco explain they decided to install the CTI-8 because of the simplicity of the system, its effectiveness, and the minimal maintenance. Francisco states, “We went door to door, telling people the old chlorinator had broken, handing out the brochures for the CTI-8 and asking them to help with the purchase of a new system… People were more than ready to pay when they found out it functioned by gravity, rather than electricity." Standing by the town’s water storage tank, he gestures towards the new chlorinator, “We’ve had the CTI-8 for nearly a year and a half now, and it cost much less than the first system [USD $130], plus we don’t have to pay for the electricity to operate it anymore."

The broken system took a toll on both family health and finances. Juan shared, “When the old machine broke, I started spending a large part of money I earned buying bottled water for my family… We had all become accustomed to drinking clean water, and I was concerned for their health." This concern was more than warranted.  Instances of acute diarrheal disease are typically attributed to some kind of contamination in the water supply and often affect children worse than adults. Before installing the water chlorinator, Self-Help conducted water tests in conjunction with the Ministry of Health which demonstrated that the village’s only water source, a nearby well, was horribly polluted with E. coli and other bacteria and unsafe to drink. 

Following the installation of the CTI-8 water chlorination system, everything changed, and the community didn't need to see the water test results to see the difference. When asked about the how the health of the populace has been affected, local nurse Idalia Rocha says, “The basic levels have clearly gone up because for every ten people we saw [before the CTI-8 installation], six or seven were for diarrhea related illnesses… now it’s more like one out of ten." The local health records confirm that the number of recorded cases of acute diarrheal disease in Walter Acevedo has been cut in half or more in most months following the CTI-8 installation. 

Roberto added, “Even when the other chlorinator worked, I had a bacteria problem in my stomach for two years… 1 month after the CTI-8 was installed, it was gone." Reina, the local school principal and CAPS leader, added that children are spending more time in her classroom, now that they aren't constantly seeking treatment at the health clinic. The CAPS leaders call the CTI-8 system a blessing. At the end of the interview they all reaffirmed, “Ahora, tomamos con confianza! – We now drink with confidence!

****TODAY IS WORLD WATER DAY!!!****  

***HELP US BRING CLEAN, SAFE DRINKING WATER TO ONE THOUSAND MORE PEOPLE LIVING IN RURAL NICARAGUA TODAY!!!  EVERY $1 DONATED = 1 MORE PERSON WITH CLEAN WATER FOR FIVE YEARS!!!!***  

 

Orlando interviews nurse from Walter Acevedo
Orlando interviews nurse from Walter Acevedo

Links:

 

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