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 battle p...
Mar 31, 2015

The healing of Primativa

Primativa's health improved with proper medication

Primitiva is a 39 year old woman from the Las Azucenas community. She has two sons who help her with chores around the house. Her oldest son cuts oranges for a company called Naranjera and with the little that he makes, he supports the family and pays the home expenses. Primitiva suffers from a disease called psoriasis that is carried through the blood and slowly eats away at the skin, causing flesh wounds. By the end of last year, it got so bad that she was not able to work anymore on her bakery business and instead it was her son who took over the business and baked to afford the house.

Primativa came to the women’s health training on Nov. 27, 2014 and explained to SHI staff that according to the doctor her problem could be cured if she takes the proper medication, care and rest. The problem was that the medication she needed was too expensive for her to afford. I went with Self-Help’s micro-credit officer, Yolanda, to San Carlos to follow up on the medications in the doctors prescriptions and went to two different pharmacies and found that the medications would cost $500.

With Self-Help’s assistance, Primativa was able to receive a donation of $500, enabling her to purchase medicine to treat the disease. We recently visited Primativa at her home and she is getting better and better each day. Already, the wound, which was once extremely deep, is becoming significantly smaller. Primitiva feels very happy and is thankful to Self-Help and to those who have donated, because with all the support, she is healing and becoming stronger. She is excited to get back to work so she can earn profits to contribute to her family again.

Your donation has helped Primativa, and many women like her, improve their health and quality of life. Thank you for your generosity.

*Note: To protect Primativa's dignity and because the problem was severe and images may upset sensitive readers, the photos included only show Primativa after she had received medical care.

Primativa's leg is healed & she's now back at work


Mar 3, 2015

Transforming lives: Ayishetu's story

Ayishetu in front of her partly completed house
Ayishetu in front of her partly completed house

Through micro loans, Ayishetu, a beneficiary of the SHI micro-loans program is able to change her social status; lives a decent life, provides medical care, food, clothing, shelter and education for her family. Ayishetu’s story is one of many successes the SHI micro-finance program has chalked.


Ayishetu is a 55-year old married woman with four (4) children. She is a native of Timeabu in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, where she works with her husband on farming and has started up her own petty trading businesses. Thanks to her hard work, dedication, and some support from Self-Help, she is achieving her dream for her children to live better lives and achieve better economic status than she was able to.

Before meeting Self-Help, Ayishetu was a farmer, and all six family members lived in a single room thatched house. Privacy was a luxury and her children could hardly do any private studies after school. School grades were bad. They had one treated bed net to sleep under to prevent malaria, but the congestion in the bedroom made it impossible to use. Malaria was common among her children and she spent many otherwise productive hours at the clinic seeking treatment for a sick child instead. This had adverse effects on her income.

Ayishetu joined the SHI micro-loans program in 2012, and is currently on her fifth loan of GHC 350 ($100) to be repaid over six months. After completing the training in 2012, she received her first loan of GHC 150 ($42), which she used to add petty trading on to her farming business as an additional source of income. Subsequent loans went to expand the business, and profits invested in children’s school fees and to build a new house.

Her new home, a two-bedroom house, is coming up fast. One bedroom is ready and occupied. With this, she hopes to improve the health, safety and comfort of her family.

Successfully, Ayishetu’s three oldest sons have been able to complete apprenticeships in mechanics, masonry and electric work. The oldest of Ayishetu’s sons is 26 years and lives in Tarkwa in the Western Region of Ghana. The three younger ones live with her at Timeabu. The second son, with his expertise in masonry provided free labour for their new house. Her youngest son is fifteen (15) and in junior high school class 1 (7th grade). In the new house, he will have space to do private studies and better his grades. There is joy in the house of Ayishetu.

Though Ayishetu is making some progress, there are challenges confronting her. She tells SHI, as she travels on foot from one community to another selling her ware, rain occasionally comes unannounced and walking long distances is having adverse consequences on her aging feet. However, she is not overly disturbed and believes that nothing good comes easy. She is ready to work even harder to make life better and worthwhile for herself and her family.

Continuous access to micro loans tailored to alleviate hunger in rural Ghana will create a better future for people such as Ayishetu and her children. Thank you for your support.

Ayishetu and her three sons
Ayishetu and her three sons
Ayishetu's old home


Feb 24, 2015

Training Center offers women's health classes

Staff from the health center lead the session
Staff from the health center lead the session

Self-Help International’s (SHI) Fred Strohbehn Training Center in Nicaragua recently offered women’s health sessions to 84 beneficiaries from the women’s micro-credit program. The session was offered over a two-day period and women were invited to attend one of the two sessions held on either Nov. 26 or 27.

The women’s health days were made possible in partnership with the Ministry of Health (MINSA). One gynecologist and one nurse from the nearby Quinta Lidia Health Center led the training sessions with the purpose of helping the women understand the importance of maintaining their health, and learning how to do periodic self-exams to detect potential health issues and cancer.

Session One: Nov. 26

Fourteen beneficiaries from the communities of Las Azucenas, Quinta Lidia, Melchorita and Santa Isabel attended the first day training session. The gynecologist started by explaining the importance of the women’s role in their families and homes, with particular emphasis on the importance of maintaining their own health in order to be in a position to take good care of their loved ones.

After the education portion of the training, the doctor explained the importance of having a routine physical exam including a pap smear and mammogram to screen for cancer or pre-cancerous cells. The doctor also showed the women how to do a routine self-exam in the privacy of their own homes to screen themselves for breast cancer. To ensure that attendees fully understood the information being shared, the doctor asked each woman to stand in front of the group and explain in her own words what she had learned from the doctor and to demonstrate how she would conduct the self-exam in the privacy of her own home.

During this process, Self-Help staff found that some of the women were still unsure, so the doctor explained it one more time to make sure all of them fully understood the training and could implement it at home.

At the end of the session, several beneficiaries requested to have the examination right away and take advantage of the opportunity while the doctor was present. The gynecologist examined each of the 14 women individually. After examination, some of the women were immediately referred to the San Carlos Hospital to have ultrasounds to further evaluate masses found or any other type of diseases, demonstrating the need for this training session.

Session Two: Nov. 27

On the second training day, 13 women attended from the communities of Cruz Verde and El Empalme de Cruz Verde. The gynecologist and the nurse assistant conducted the same training as the first day. After making sure that all the women fully understood the importance of maintaining their health and how to conduct home exams, the doctor offered breast exams to each one of the women present. Similar to the day before, some of the women were also referred to the San Carlos Hospital for further evaluation.

Women from both sessions said they were really thankful and happy to have this type of training organized by Self-Help International and the Ministry of Health. One of the women even said that out of all the training she has received from Self-Help International, this training was the one she liked most because now she understands that the organization really cares about them as human beings. She explained that economic concerns regarding poverty are very important, but the health education means even more to beneficiaries. Attendees said they are thankful for Self-Help International staff for providing this program, training, and skills.

Since the health class was held at the Fred Strohbehn Training Center, the women were able to come to the classes with confidence and comfort because they are familiar with the organization and feel a part of Self-Help. This level of trust is important because the women are hesitant and uncomfortable getting exams with people they aren’t familiar with, so they said they would not have gone to screenings otherwise.

Unfortunately beneficiaries from Laurel Galan were unable to attend because most of the women are teachers and were working during the first two sessions. SHI staff plans to continue this training session in 2015 to account for those who were unable to attend.

A donation of $75 will provide a training session for one beneficiary.

Thank you for your support of the Nicaragua Training Center. Your donation is making it possible for women in rural Nicaragua to grow professionally and personally.

Women learn about health exams
Women learn about health exams


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