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...
Aug 10, 2016

Back to School: Farmers learn to produce mushroom spawn!

Festus displays the first spawn after training
Festus displays the first spawn after training

Since opening its doors in 2014, the Frances Mueller and Virginia Lageschulte Training Centre has trained 120 people in six different agro-enterprises: rearing rabbit, poultry, grass cutter and snail, as well as vegetable and mushroom farming. Twelve of the trainees (10%) have established commercial mushroom production.

The mushroom business was initially lucrative, but the producers were soon confronted with challenges: as more people went into the industry, the demand for spawns began to exceed the supply. The problem was compounded as low quality spawns with poor germination found their way onto the market. The smallholder farmers lost huge sums of money due to bad spawns.  Understandably, this adversely affected farmers’ interest and many faced returning to unemployment. 

Through a partnership with the Farmer-to-Farmer program, two skilled volunteers from the United States, Dr. Khalid M. Hameed and Dr. Henry Van Tuyl Cotter, traveled to Ghana to train farmers on spawn production so they wouldn't have to rely on untrustworthy sources any longer. Drs. Hameed and Cotter also shared their expertise on marketing mushrooms with those in attendance. 

For two weeks in May, twenty four (24) participants learned about the best practices in mushroom production. Participants included practicing mushroom producers, Self-Help staff members, and students from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). Most participants had no more than senior high school education, and enjoyed the opportunity to access free higher-level education.

Held in the Plant Pathology section of KNUST, the training was 80% practical and 20% theory. Participants learned how to prepare potato dextrose agar, malt agar, tissue culture, autoclaving, inoculation, and spawning, as well as environmental conditions suitable for incubation and fruiting. Good marketing practices such as branding, packaging, handling and pricing were also reviewed.

During the practical labs, participants produced over 2,000mls of agar which was used to prepare tissue culture using oyster mushroom, which is the most commonly produced among training center graduates. The training also provided an opportunity to produce tissue cultures for other mushroom species to diversify businesses. These cultures were used to inoculate sorghum and millet in plastic bags to produce spawns.

At the end of the training, participants were given cultures and spawns for multiplication. The participants shared their gratitude with the experts for making the knowledge and skills involved in spawn production accessible even for those with limited formal education. They were extremely thankful for the opportunity offered them.

Three of the participants in particular, Osei, Vivian and Ohene, are making significant progress after the training. They are working with the Plant Pathology Section of KNUST to produce spawns for their own use and also for marketing. Within the first month following training, Ohene had already produced over thirty petri dishes (150ml) of mother culture and twenty (20) jars (800mls) of mother spawns. He is presently producing 400 bottles (120,000mls) of spawn which he will use both for his own production and for sale to farmers who opt not to specialize in spawn production. 

This skilled training has rekindled the spirit of the Plant Pathology section to play a lead role in the production of high quality spawns to alleviate the sufferings of farmers. The section has produced its first pure spawn after the training. Festus, a KNUST staff member, promises that this will be sustained to curb incidents of low quality and shortage of spawns among mushroom farmers in Ghana.

This training represents an important next step for the Centre as we help farmers who are prepared to deepen their knowledge access the information they need, and help ensure a stable supply of mushroom spawn for future trainees. Thank you for your support, which helped make this free training available to farmers like Osei, who are working to better provide for their families!

Ohene prepares millet for autoclaving
Ohene prepares millet for autoclaving
Learning mushroom spawn production (theory)
Learning mushroom spawn production (theory)
Mushroom spawn production graduation celebration
Mushroom spawn production graduation celebration

Links:

Jul 20, 2016

Celebrating Lydia's progress

Your support has changed Lydia
Your support has changed Lydia's & Nelly's stories

***LYDIA'S PHOTO MADE THE GLOBALGIVING PHOTO CONTEST***
CLICK HERE TO HELP US WIN THE $1,000 GRAND PRIZE

Two years ago, we shared Lydia's story with you.  Providing for her family was a daily struggle. But she used a micro-loan in 2013 to purchase a sewing machine and start a sewing business and things got a little bit better. And after another micro-loan in 2014, she was able to purchase fabrics for re-sale. She became a "one-stop-shop" so her customers could purchase fabric from her and commission her to make their clothes, rather than going to two different places for the services.  Lydia was using her profits to feed and clothe her two daughters, and pay school fees for the older girl. She had hopes of expanding her fabric trading business to sell other products as well. 

Today, Lydia is making progress toward her dreams. Lydia has expanded her petty trading business, in hopes of increasing income so she can better provide for her daughters - particularly as her older daughter enters her teenage years and junior high and high school fees loom.  Nelly, now 4 1/2, started school in Beposo last year, and will enter Kindergarten 2 this fall. Lydia takes great pride in seeing her daughters get an education.  

Like other traders, Lydia sets off very early each morning to walk from village to village to sell her products, or to take them to market on market days. She tries to be the first person there so she can get the most customers since there are many other petty traders selling similar products.  

Because she sets off so early, Lydia doesn't have time to prepare breakfast for the girls before school. If she made breakfast each morning, and took the time to fetch water, fetch firewood, boil the water, and prepare the porridge, she would miss out on the sales that put dinner on the table at night. 

Lydia shared that Self-Help has been very very good to her. and she really appreciates it. In addition to micro-loans, she is grateful to Self-Help for supporting the start of a new school in Beposo. It is near enough that Nelly can easily walk to it each morning, and thanks to Self-Help, Nelly gets a hot breakfast first thing in the morning, even though Lydia has already left the house. Life as a petty trader isn't easy, but for her children, it's worth it.

***VOTE FOR LYDIA'S PHOTO IN THE GLOBALGIVING PHOTO CONTEST FROM JULY 18 - 22***

CLICK HERE TO HELP US WIN THE $1,000 GRAND PRIZE

The organization whose photo has the most votes by noon EDT on July 22, 2016 will win.
Read the full terms and conditions here.

Links:

Jul 20, 2016

VOTE to help Lydia & Nelly win the GlobalGiving Photo Contest

Your support has changed Lydia & Nelly
Your support has changed Lydia & Nelly's stories

***LYDIA & NELLY'S PHOTO MADE THE GLOBALGIVING PHOTO CONTEST***
CLICK HERE TO HELP US WIN THE $1,000 GRAND PRIZE

I was excited to meet Lydia this past February. I had read her story. I was rooting for her. 

She shared that she has expanded her petty trading business to more products than just fabrics in order to increase her income so she can better provide for her daughters - particularly as her older daughter enters her teenage years and junior high and high school fees loom.  Her younger daughter Nelly, now 4 1/2, started school in Beposo last year, and will enter Kindergarten 2 this fall. She takes great pride in seeing her daughters get an education.  

Like other traders, Lydia sets off very early each morning to walk from village to village to sell her products, or to take them to market on market days. She tries to be the first person there so she can get the most customers since there are many other petty traders selling similar products.

Because she sets off so early, Lydia doesn't have time to prepare breakfast for the girls before school. If she made breakfast each morning, and took the time to fetch water, fetch firewood, boil the water, and prepare the porridge, she would miss out on the sales that put dinner on the table at night. The sales she needs to pay school fees.

Thanks to your support, Lydia no longer has to decide between providing breakfast or providing dinner.  She is grateful to Self-Help for supporting the start of a new school feeding program in Beposo. The school is close enough that Nelly can easily walk to it each morning, and thanks to Self-Help, Nelly gets a hot breakfast first thing in the morning, even though Lydia has already left the house. Life as a petty trader isn't easy, but for her children, it's worth it.

Photographer Andy Robinson captured the photo above of Lydia and Nelly together that day, and GlobalGiving selected it as one of the top photos in the GIVE HOPE category of their photo contest this year!  You can help us win the $1,000 grand prize by voting and inviting your friends to do the same!

***VOTE FOR LYDIA & NELLY'S PHOTO IN THE GLOBALGIVING PHOTO CONTEST***

CLICK HERE TO VOTE & HELP US WIN THE $1,000 GRAND PRIZE
Don't forget to check your email to confirm your vote!

The organization whose photo has the most votes between 11 AM CDT on July 18 and 11 AM CDT on July 22, 2016 will win.
Read the full terms and conditions here.

Links:

 
   

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