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Nov 18, 2019

Maralexia Takes a Leap of Faith with a New Oven

Maralexia.
Maralexia.

Maralexia is an entrepreneur and root vegetable producer from La Venada, a community situated 28 kilometers (17 miles) from San Carlos. Maralexia and her husband have two young children, and her husband is a small-holder farmer who isn’t able to earn enough to cover their household expenses.

One day, a local community leader invited Maralexia to a Self-Help International micro-credit training. Maralexia was fascinated by the improved ovens that Self-Help was installing in the home of her farming neighbor, Antolin. Maralexia and Berta, her neighbor and Self-Help beneficiary, were curious about the concept of making an oven with a barrel. They had many questions and concerns, but their doubts were alleviated once they participated in Self-Help’s training on the new ovens. 

Maralexia and Berta learned how the improved ovens operate, and they were very impressed by how much time and firewood the ovens could save. Maralexia decided she wanted to install an improved oven in her home, too.

Self-Help worked with Maralexia to install the oven, and a week after its installation, Maralexia began increasing production of her baked goods and promoting them. With the new oven, she was able to bake twice a week, increasing production of her sweet bread, simple breads, empanadas, and corn flour buns. She also attended the Self-Help seminar on Baking and Bakeries at Self-Help’s training center in Quinta Lidia, then she applied the knowledge she learned in that session to her business. 

Prior to working with Self-Help, Maralexia wasn’t sure how much her business was earning. Self-Help’s training helped her analyze her business’ income and realize that she was not earning a profit. Maralexia had always wanted to incorporate crafting into her business, but she couldn’t because she lacked the financial resources. 

Maralexia received an initial $400 loan from Self-Help, but she wasn’t sure how to use it to increase her earnings. Thankfully, Self-Help’s training showed her how to do a cost-analysis of her crafts, which include flower crowns she makes for for Nicaragua’s holiday on Nov. 2nd, Dia de los Fieles Difuntos (Day of the Faithful Dead). In analyzing the cost of materials and her own labor, Maralexia was able to appropriately price her flower crowns based on size, material, and labor costs. Now, Maralexia keeps track of her income and expenses, and she realizes that her business has become very successful within her community.

Maralexia’s products are in high demand, and she is very happy about her business’ success. She is very thankful to the people who helped her dreams come to fruition. Her dream is to have a small family business that generates work to help her family and community members. With her profits, she plans to purchase more supplies to make vases. She was already commissioned to make 1,000 crowns and 300 vases. She is so happy that her contributions to her household are improving the living conditions of her family.

Maralexia thanks all the donors taking the time to help Nicaraguan women who want to start or strengthen their businesses. A lack of financial resources means that many Nicaraguan women cannot achieve their dreams. That’s why Maralexia urges donors to continue to support the program so that they can see women’s dreams come true through the low-interest loans that help their businesses grow.

For GivingTuesday on Dec. 3, GlobalGiving is offering a $500,000 incentive fund. The Incentive Fund will be distributed to participants proportionally based on final fundraising totals. This means that, at the end of GivingTuesday, the projects that bring in the most dollars will win the largest portion of the Incentive Fund and every project that activates donors will earn something. Gifts made between 12:00 AM and 11:59 PM on Dec. 3 will be eligible for the incentive fund! Read all the terms and conditions here.

Maralexia and her new oven.
Maralexia and her new oven.
The new oven design (see metal barrel).
The new oven design (see metal barrel).
Maralexia's flower crafts.
Maralexia's flower crafts.
Nov 13, 2019

Sometimes Good Things Take Time

Hawa.
Hawa.

There's a chance to increase your impact for GivingTuesday on Dec. 3! Scroll down to learn more!

This article was written by a Teen Girls Club support staff member, Bridget Gyamfi, a National Builders Corps (NABCO) member of the Teen Girls Club.

Hawa is a go-getting young woman with a dream of becoming a fashion designer. She is from Bedaabour, a cocoa growing community in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, and she studied Visual Arts in senior high school. She completed senior high school in 2018, just as the Self-Help International Teen Girls Club was starting in Bedaabour. Hawa eagerly joined the club, and her involvement helped her to stay committed to her studies. Additionally, being in the club made Hawa realize the importance of helping herself no matter the challenges she faces in the future. 

Hawa’s plan after senior high school was to enter into an apprenticeship program or a fashion school, which would put her on the path to achieve her dreams. She believes that the skills she acquired from school - reading, writing, and speaking English - will complement her talents and take her far in her desired career.

Hawa’s life after school has not been easy. She has had to help her parents on their farm so they can raise enough money to put her into a fashion design program. Hawa remembered the life skills she learned from the Teen Girls Club, like saving money and resource mobilization. Using the skills she learned, Hawa started a small business producing and selling popcorn in her village, and it is helping her save money toward going to a fashion design program. 

Because Bedaabour is a rural community, young women typically do not start small enterprises in the community, so Hawa has become a role model to some of the younger girls. In addition to her business, she works casually during cocoa seasons collecting and gathering cocoa pods from nearby farms. Hawa is able to save part of the money she earns and use some to support herself. 

Hawa accepts that life is full of ups and downs. She also believes that she will be able to gradually work towards her dream because she was able to excel during junior and senior high school. She shared that every aspect of her life has seen a positive change as a result of the Teen Girls Club. Hawa gratefully thanked Self-Help and the Teen Girls Club for helping her to help herself to have confidence and goals in life to keep her focused.  

 

For GivingTuesday on Dec. 3, GlobalGiving is offering a $500,000 incentive fund. The Incentive Fund will be distributed to participants proportionally based on final fundraising totals. This means that, at the end of GivingTuesday, the projects that bring in the most dollars will win the largest portion of the Incentive Fund and every project that activates donors will earn something. Gifts made between 12:00 AM and 11:59 PM on Dec. 3 will be eligible for the incentive fund! Read all the terms and conditions here.

Hawa selling popcorn.
Hawa selling popcorn.
Bedaabour teen girls playing soccer.
Bedaabour teen girls playing soccer.
Nov 6, 2019

"I feel motivated to continue working to improve the water in my community thanks to Self-Help."

Arle, President of the Las Bellezas CAPS.
Arle, President of the Las Bellezas CAPS.

 47-year-old Arle has lived in the community of Las Bellezas, Nicaragua for more than 25 years. He and his wife have two sons and a daughter. He is currently the president of the Water and Sanitation Committee (CAPS) in his community. Self-Help Clean Water Program staff interviewed him during a 2019 trip to his community, and he expressed his motivation to continue working on improving water for his community. Read the interview below!

 

What was the main problem for your community?

In 2014, our city hall and community worked together on a water project to bring water into families’ homes, but the water didn’t was still untreated. It wasn’t safe to drink.

How did you learn about Self-Help International’s Clean Water Program?

We heard about an organization that was installing chlorinators to improve water. We wanted to contact them so that we could have a chlorinator that would disinfect the water in our community.  

What motivated you and your community to install the chlorinator?

We were motivated by the idea of a chlorinator in the community because the water we had was poor quality. We were drinking piped water that was not suitable for consumption. Plus, there were outbreaks of diarrheal diseases which greatly impacted our children. There were 97 registered cases of diarrhea in children from ages 0-5, and 8 cases of stomach bacteria. The Ministry of Health (MINSA) informed us that our community was one of the worst affected by diarrheal diseases due to our unsafe water.

How did the community come together and agree on installing a chlorinator?

The six-person CAPS board met, then it held an open community meeting to debate the installation of a chlorinator. Orlando, Self-Help’s Clean Water Program Officer, attended this meeting to explain the installation of the chlorinator and how it would disinfect the water. He explained how it would work on our community’s aqueduct.

Did you have any cases of illness in your family due to the poor water quality?

In 2014, my wife had a bacterial infection in her stomach. I took her to the medical center in Juigalpa and then to the capital city, Managua. A bacteriologist tested her and told us that the unchlorinated water was to blame for her infection. She spent six months being treated for it.

 

What happened after the chlorinator installation?

When the chlorinator was put in, the number of cases of diarrhoeal diseases dropped by 98%. Community members noticed that they were healthier and realized how important the chlorinator was. Today the population of the community is extremely grateful - to God, and to the organization that installed the chlorinator and has supported us in every way possible.

How do you feel, as the president of the CAPS in your community, about the Self-Help Clean Water Program?

I am sincerely telling you that I feel totally grateful, as does my community. Improving water quality is a process every day. We have seen the importance of water being sanitized and of always having safe, good quality water. Personally, I am very grateful for the support Self-Help has given me as a leader of the CAPS and the community. I feel motivated to continue working on this project that is having a great impact on my community.

 

 

 

Las Bellezas community members.
Las Bellezas community members.
The Las Bellezas water system.
The Las Bellezas water system.
 
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