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...
Nov 28, 2016

Securing Potable Water in the Community of Mexico

Previous chlorinator method in Mexico
Previous chlorinator method in Mexico

Mexico is a rural community, considered a semi-urban settlement by the city hall of the municipality of San Carlos, located about 31 kilometers from the city—22 km of road that is paved, and 9 kilometers that is muddy, bumpy, and hard to access. According to the register of the Household Distribution Network of Drinking Water, Mexico is estimated to have a 180 homes and a population of 1,200 (averaging 7 family members per home).

The Mayor’s office along with other agencies, installed a gravity water system in 2005 that used an electric pump to fill the water storage tank. The system used a drip chlorination system that worked first with a granulated chlorine solution, and then moved to using a chlorine produced by hydrolysis, but it did not completely purify the water and eventually stopped working. Below is the story of how Self-Help International brought a sustainable answer to the community of Mexico.

Stories from the President of the CAPS of México

Juan is a 28-year-old who has lived in the community of México for most of his life. Two years ago, he became the CAPS (Drinking Water and Sanitation) President in his community. In an interview with his family, he said, “Before we had this project, there were only communal wells that supplied water to the population of Mexico. The wells were not treated, so many stomach diseases and diarrhea caused by cholera affected the entire health of the community."

When the project began in 2005 through the efforts of Teófilo and Wilfredo (two recognized leaders in the community), the CAPS for México was also formed to manage the water system, but at that time, the water was being treated with the granulated chlorine drops, using the electric chlorinator that broke down. The community complained about this method because it didn’t seem secure.

When the second chlorinator system method was used (hydrolysis), it required salted water and an electronic device to produce the chlorine in the liquid, proving to be too difficult a method to manage and required certain conditions to work properly. In addition to this method, they also had to apply the chlorine manually every day directly into the water storage tanks, making it difficult to manage and consumed much of the leaders’ time.  The device eventually broke down due to electrical problems.

Sitting in his quiet home, next to his wife Auxiliadora, his ten-year-old daughter Sheila, and his four-year-old son Jason, Juan continues the story and said, “We spent over a year with issues trying to provide chlorine treatment to the water, but as soon as we heard about Self-Help International and its innovative water chlorinator program we contacted the Water Program Officer right away to come to Mexico and teach us how could bring safe drinking water to our community.”

Speaking from his heart, he continued, “Thanks to God and Self-Help International, we now have installed the CTI-8 chlorinator system in our storage water tank, and this system is more easy to use to chlorinate the water without the hassle of using batteries or electricity. The water is finally able to be distributed to all houses in our community. The CTI-8 Chlorinator guarantees us the hygiene, safety and confidence whenever we drink water; so the installation cost was well worth it, because the community knows it’s now completely safe.”

Stories from the Secretary of the CAPS of México

Delia is the Secretary of CAPS from Mexico. Her story begins when her husband Walter, their son Francisco (15 years old), and younger son Bryan (5 years old), had to spend a majority of their income on taking care of her father-in-law when he became ill with cholera.  She remembers the days when they would have to drink raw water without any treatment, because there were no safe chlorine options at the time.

Today in México where her family currently resides, there is now a natural water source with a CTI-8 Chlorinator system installed that provides the correct chlorine treatment for them to drink safe water.  Like Juan, she remembers the time they had to use two different devices to chlorinate the water, but both were damaged during the time they were using it. Now with the chlorine tablets, the people of México feel safer with the water they drink because it guarantees the health of all us.

Delia ends the conversation by saying, “The cost of chlorinator CTI-8 certainly is worthy and justified, because it improves the health of the people through chlorine water; as it is more expensive to cure a disease than install the CTI-8 chlorinator and buy the chlorine tablets.” She tells Self-Help that, “We [community of México] use only three chlorine tablets every month to keep the water treated, and that's cheap for us… very cheap.”

She also proudly states, “We are currently incorporating a tiny nearby village called Los Ranchitos (an additional 40 houses with 150 people) to our community’s water system so they can have the benefits of clean water that we all do. We are very thankful for Self-Help International for bringing us the CTI-8 chlorinator system and for providing us advice and monitoring our system to improve the health of our people.”

**Help us reach more communities with clean water by donating on #GivingTuesday, and GlobalGiving will match 50% of your donation so your impact is magnified!**

This offer begins at 11PM Central on Nov 28 and runs through Nov 29 while funds last, so set yourself a reminder to donate as early as possible to maximize your impact!

Learn more at http://tools.blog.globalgiving.org/2016/11/01/globalgiving-has-huge-news/

Previous chlorine drop method
Previous chlorine drop method
previous method of producing liquid chlorine
previous method of producing liquid chlorine
Juan with his family
Juan with his family
Secretary of the CAPS with her son
Secretary of the CAPS with her son
Teofilo helping install the new CTI-8 system
Teofilo helping install the new CTI-8 system
Nov 23, 2016

Leadership In Action

Farmers learn about QPM at the experimental plot
Farmers learn about QPM at the experimental plot

Since it’s construction four years ago, the Fred Strohbehn Training Center has hosted a great number of leaders from several communities in the southeast side of Nicaragua at Self-Help International’s main Nicaragua office. Although many of the events and training sessions are held at the office, Self-Help’s staff has traveled to reach communities in the most rural parts of Nicaragua, (through mud, dust, ditches, and rain) in order to get to the communities of El Pajaro Negro, El Triunfo, Chontales, Santo Thomas, San Pedro de Lovago, and Muelle de los Buelles (just to name a few).  This year alone, the center has trained over 469 local community members. 

No matter how difficult it may be at times to access the center from their rural communities, locals will find a way to get there— whether it be by truck, bus, horse, or walking long distances in order to attend the meetings, so that they can benefit from everything Self-Help has to offer.

The training center’s main mission is to provide these trainings and skills to all the people who can benefit by the programs offered, and for all of those who are interested. Farmers attend to learn how to manage and implement corn planting, harvesting, treatment of the land, and marketing with the QPM (quality protein maize) program. Others find interest in bringing clean water to their communities by using CTI-8  water chlorination systems.  In addition, many more mothers and youth are taking interest in Self-Help’s micro-credit program, which provides training on how to use new and improved ovens, and teaches entrepreneurship by providing women the lessons they need to start up a small business.

In a typical training session at the center, the Country Director, Mr. Campos, explains the importance the health benefits of QPM, along with information about the three other programs’ benefits to create economic opportunity. During the most recent session, Self-Help was visited by a woman named Georgina, from the community of Loma Quemada. She discovered Self-Help through word of mouth from the San Carlos Rotary Club. Once she heard about the QPM program and the experimental plot in Quinta Lidia (located at Self-Help’s main office), she quickly requested that Self-Help’s Country Director  share the QPM information with farmers from her community and to sign them all up for the next training session. When he agreed, she hurried home to her community and passed the news onto the rest of the farmers. A month later, all of the farmers showed up to the next available training session, ready to learn.

Georgina is a prime example of how Self-Help reaches new communities. Inspired by what she had learned about QPM, she convinced all 25 farmers and leaders of three seed community banks to try something new. After a successful session, the farmers along with Mr. Campos, created a sampling plot in their own communities in which 10 farmers decided to use their own land as part of the trial. They planted QPM seed with several varieties (Fortaleza, Subtiava, Tepeyac, Nutrader, and a hybrid) in different plots to be compared with the commercial seed the farmers already knew (known most commonly as NB-6 and H-INTA 991). The new corn grew successfully. 

In addition to the new group of farmers were new mothers, who learned how to improve their recipes (bread, cakes, roasted chickens, and pizzas) for their personal businesses and learned how to best utilize new and improved ovens. Many of them requested to learn more about how they could get their own new-and-improved and environmentally-friendly oven, after seeing other women in their neighborhoods being met with success after receive a loan to build them through the program.

The women also learned how to utilize the fruit in their backyard by turning them into marmalades, jam, and pickling the vegetables that grow along with them.  For Micro-Credit Program Officer Fletes, having youth involved is vital to breaking the cycle of poverty. In the most recent trainings, children observed their parents becoming leaders in their community and were eager to learn additional skills to expand their family’s business.

Some mothers also took a leadership role in their communities by becoming a part of their local clean water committees, so that they can stay updated in improving their community’s water treatment. One mother said, "It is not just up to one family member; it is a group effort that we ensure safe drinking water."

With local farmers, mothers, and youth participating, it’s only a matter of time before more communities take interest in the center. The new San Carlos Rotary Club members now gather at the center regularly to host meetings.

The Nicaragua staff tells the community as they celebrate together amidst their success, “Our doors are open to anybody no matter their religious or political beliefs, our center is to be one for all and all for one.” 

Help us reach more communities with improved practices at our training center by donating on #GivingTuesday, and GlobalGiving will match 50% of your donation so your impact is magnified! 
This offer begins at 11PM Central on Nov 28 and runs through Nov 29 while funds last, so set yourself a reminder to donate as early as possible to maximize your impact!

Learn more at http://tools.blog.globalgiving.org/2016/11/01/globalgiving-has-huge-news/

the conditions of the road in rural communities
the conditions of the road in rural communities
the farmers recruited by Georgina
the farmers recruited by Georgina
a mother taking on a CAPS leadership role
a mother taking on a CAPS leadership role
excitement about the micro-credit program!
excitement about the micro-credit program!
community members planting in demonstration plots
community members planting in demonstration plots
Nov 18, 2016

Record Successes with Conservation Agriculture

Maize-Bush Mucuna Intercrop
Maize-Bush Mucuna Intercrop

Minimizing Production Cost While Growing and Consuming More Protein

In Ghana, the majority of farmers are subsistent— cultivating less than five acres annually. They farm to feed their families and also generate income to cater for other family needs such as paying medical bills and schools fees. Access to land and credit are major challenges confronting subsistent farming in Ghana.

In situations where land is a limiting factor in crop production, use of high yielding crop varieties and effective soil management can’t be compromised.

In 2014, SHI trained six farmers; two females and four males from Bedabour, (in the Atwima Mponua District) and gave them inputs on credit to cultivate one acre each of high yielding Quality Protein Maize (QPM). They recorded increased yields, averaging 1,100kg of maize per acre, which yielded higher profits. Based on the successes recorded, the number of farmer beneficiaries was increased from six to twenty; seven females, and thirteen males in 2015. All 20 farmers received improved agronomic training on land preparation, row planting, and fertilizer application. After the training, they are able to train their colleague farmers— passing these skills onto others in need. Self-Help provided all twenty farmers inputs credit which, they paid back in-kind. The process was repeated again this year, in 2016, with 25 farmers receiving training and inputs. The yields are a success again, just like the previous year.

Though the farmers continue to record good yields, the cost of production keeps increasing yearly due to the fact that most of the inputs given to them are imported, and the local currency (the Cedi), is weak. This year alone, the Cedi has depreciated by over 20% against the US dollar. The gains made by the farmers are thus eroded by the weak performance of the Cedi.

This year, for an acre of maize, each farmer received inputs worth two hundred and fifty-three Cedis (GHC253) and out of this amount, forty-three Cedis (GH43) representing seventeen percent (17%) of the production cost, is for herbicides. The Young Adults Training Centre is currently training farmers to be able to reduce their production cost through conservation agriculture.

Using three experimental plots, the farmers have learned that intercropping with a leguminous crop like cowpea, reduces the cost of weed control. There are three different treatments; 1, 2 and 3. Treatment 1 has mulch, and Treatment 2 is the control plot (only okra). Treatment 3 is okra intercropped with Bush Mucuna. Weed infestation is high on Treatment 2 (the plot without mulch), and weeds have been cleared twice on Treatment 2 since planting. No weeds have been controlled on both Treatments 1 and 3 since planting.  However, weeds are seen on the portions of Treatment 1 where the mulch has decomposed (refer to photos).

It is worth noting that, in addition to minimizing production cost, intercropping with a leguminous crop will ensure that the farmers have the much needed protein necessary for the growth and development of their children. Again, as they produce two crops, they are better able to deal with price fluctuations of their commodities; a fall in one commodity price may be compensated for by the other thereby stabilizing their capital and avoiding unwarranted collapse of their businesses.

Thank you for your support, which has made the progress to date possible. In coming seasons, we plan to establish more demo plots in selected communities to be able to educate more farmers on conservation agriculture.

Help us reach more farmers with improved practices: donate on #GivingTuesday and GlobalGiving will match 50% of your donation so your impact is magnified! This offer begins at 11PM Central on Nov 28 and runs through Nov 29 while funds last, so set yourself a reminder to donate as early as possible to maximize your impact!

Treatment 1 (mulched)
Treatment 1 (mulched)
Treatment 2 (no mulch)
Treatment 2 (no mulch)
Treatment 3 (cover crop)
Treatment 3 (cover crop)
 
   

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