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...
Oct 15, 2015

School Uniforms Clothed Children,Create Employment

On the left is Adelina and on the right is Erlinda
On the left is Adelina and on the right is Erlinda

School Uniforms Clothe Children, Create Employment

Thanks to a special designated donation for school supplies and school uniforms to start the new school year, and the support of GlobalGiving donors, Self-Help was able to ensure that students of Treinte de Mayo School and students that are children of women in the Micro-Credit Program were able to get the clothing they needed to start the school year, while supporting the local economy and micro-credit beneficiaries.

Treinte de Mayo is a particularly depressed shantytown located outside of San Carlos, Nicaragua. There is limited running water and very few families are able to afford school uniforms for their children to attend school.  Self-Help saw the need in this community and helped to build a school for pre-school, kindergarten, and first graders to attend since the nearest school was too far away for these young children to walk to.

Adelina is from Las Azucenas and is a single mother, with one daughter still living at home. Adelina is one among the 125 women that benefit from SHI’s Micro-Credit Program in Nicaragua. Adelina is arguably the most gifted tailor among the 125 women and uses her expert sewing skills to earn a living by operating a small sewing business out of her home. Her sewing and tailoring business offers bags and children’s clothes, among other items.

When we received a request for a bulk order of school uniforms for Treinte de Mayo, we knew just who to go to: Adelina would be in charge of the production with her demonstrated skills and talents. When we explained the opporunity, she agreed immediately and grew excited right away because this was such a great chance for her to not only prove that she was capable of completing an order of this size but also because of the profits and improvements it would bring to the lives of her, her assistants, their families, and the community as a whole.

Adelina’s business was too small and her capital too little to complete such a large order without a downpayment, so a portion was paid to her up front. As soon as the money was available, Adelina visited the Self-Help International San Carlos office and went with our team to Treinte de Mayo School, as well as all of the homes of the children whose mothers are in the micro-credit program, to take measurements for the uniforms she would sew. Later on that week, she traveled to the main market in the capital of Nicaragua, Managua, to purchase the required materials to begin production, which has the best rates in the country even factoring in transportation expenses. Knowing she could not do it all alone, Adelina also hired three women from her community (two of them to help sewing and the other to help by ironing each piece) in order to have the uniforms ready in about one month.  In total, they need to make 300 items of clothing, including skirts for the girls, pants for the boys, and unisex blouses.

The four women worked in Adelina’s living room with three pedal sewing machines.  Each piece was then ironed, packaged, and labeled with each student’s name to avoid any possible confusion. The women were extremely careful and professional of course. This attitude had already been instilled in the women through each of the training sessions provided by the Self-Help International staff.  The women demonstrated personal growth and also proved that they are indeed putting into practice what they have learned while being a part of the Self-Help International Micro-Credit Program. 

After delivering the uniforms and getting the final payment, Adelina divided the profit amongst all four women. With her profits, Adelina purchased a better quality iron for future works, a pair of shoes, a uniform, a cell phone for her daughter, and one pig. When this pig is grown, she plans to either sell it for a profit or to eat it for Christmas celebration.

The other three women (Carmen with two children, Erlinda with two boys, and Lorena two children) used their earned share of the profits to support their house needs and, like Adelina, they also purchased their children uniforms and shoes for the Independence Day celebration. Erlinda even had enough money leftover to repair her kitchen roof that was in bad condition.

All in all, a lot of people benefited from SHI supporters’ gesture of goodwill. Ninety-two students from Treinte de Mayo School and 60 students that are children of women participating in SHI’s Micro-Credit Program received new school uniforms for the school year that they would not have had otherwise. Children and youth of these rural community areas needed SHI’s help most, but the entire community came together and benefited from the project.

Adelina and the other three women are thankful for all of the people with good hearts that made all of this possible for people they don’t even know but felt their human needs and shared part of them with love and goodwill. “Thank you so much” said Adelina and the other three women. They are investing in things now that otherwise would not have been possible without SHI’s intervention. Adelina added, “We are woman who love to work usually we don’t have a great chance like this one to help in the growth and empowerment of our community.”

Adelina is proud that she was the one chosen to do such a large order of uniforms. This job enabled her to reinvest her profits back into her business and substantially expand the amount and sizes of orders she can fulfill, which in previous years would not have been feasible.  Usually Adelina, and other tailors, have busy seasons during the holidays, but otherwise only have seldom work such as repairs.  Due to the Micro-Credit Program, Adelina profits enough to provide for her and her daughter, even during the lulls.

“Thanks to all the people behind this good action,” beamed Adelina. “May God bless all of you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping our children because we all know that they are the future of our country. If we can’t afford to send our children to school, there’s no hope for a better future, but because of people like you we are still hoping for a better future. Thank you!”

Help us continue to serve more women like Adelina.  Please consider making a recurring monthly donation to Self-Help International.  Just $10 per month would fund two micro-credit loans every year!

Using pedal sewing machines(front)&ironing(back)
Using pedal sewing machines(front)&ironing(back)
Carmen working happily, pleased with the results
Carmen working happily, pleased with the results
Adelina smiling and ironing the finished products
Adelina smiling and ironing the finished products
Brand new school uniforms for the new school year
Brand new school uniforms for the new school year
Here Adelina is holding her hard-earned payment
Here Adelina is holding her hard-earned payment
Oct 15, 2015

Clean Water in Cruz Verde Changes Families' Lives

Freddy, Pedro, and Guillermo
Freddy, Pedro, and Guillermo

In the humid overgrowth of Nicaragua’s dense forests lies the village of Cruz Verde, a rural region in the municipality of San Carlos. The city is home to 659 people and relies heavily on agriculture as a means of sustenance. The air is filled by the squawks of chickens running through the muddy roads, and the happy grunts of pigs rolling around in muck. The noise is almost enough to drown out the interviewees, CAPS (Comité de Agua Potable y Saneamiento  -- Water Sanitation Committee) leaders Pedro, Freddy, and Guillermo. Self Help International conducted the interview nearly four years after Cruz Verde elected to install the CTI-8 water chlorinator, wanting to know the broader long-term impacts the purification system had made on the community.

Lobbying the people of Cruz Verde to purchase the system was quite an impact in and of itself. Describing their grassroots effort, Pedro states, “We heard about the CTI-8 during a Self Help International presentation in 2011… Our water needed to be purified, so we walked, house, to house, to house, handing out brochures and educating every family on the importance of using chlorinated water”. When asked if they literally spoke with every family, Freddy reiterates, “each house, every house”. This initiative by the CAPS leaders was meant to inform the people on the importance of investing in their water system.

Guillermo expands on this, saying, “Many people knew the stomach illnesses they suffered were from the water – less people knew that chlorinating it would help – [still] less actually chlorinated their water with home purifying kits. I would say only 30% of the people were drinking clean water before you guys [Self-Help International] installed the CTI-8”. As they communicated the seriousness of access to potable water, they were met with almost unanimous support. The push for the chlorinator lead to a communal investment in a more advanced system, providing potable running water to each household.

Pedro explains that before the water purification efforts, “We had to walk 4 kilometers each way to reach the nearest fresh water source… Typically the women and children went to do it since we work… they would walk back carrying anywhere from 2-5 gallons each”. To give some perspective, 5 gallons of water weighs over 40 pounds, and is carried for a total of 2.48 miles. That grueling effort was performed on a daily basis, providing water that still contained a myriad of contaminants.

Life in Cruz Verde has changed quite drastically since the installation, as water is clean and plentiful. Freddy balances his son on one knee as he explains the health benefits of the system. He states, simply, “All my kids got sick from chronic diarrhea before the installation; since the installation, all of them have avoided it”. Though incredibly effective, the CTI-8’s functions are basic and have worked without error since the installation. “We just have to place a new chlorine tablet in every two weeks or so… it’s very simple and we haven’t ever had problems with it”. When asked if they thought the purchase was worth the lobbying labor and fiscal cost, Pedro responds, “You cannot put a cost on good health… not on mine, not on my children’s, not on my neighbors, not on anyone’s”.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, Self-Help International has now installed 66 chlorinators purifying 1,631,000 liters of water each day to ensure that 8,849 homes, or 56,687 people, in Nicaragua have access to clean water. For only $135 you can sponsor an entire water chlorinator unit and change the lives of an entire community.

Pictured here is the CTI-8 of Cruz Verde
Pictured here is the CTI-8 of Cruz Verde
Photo of the water chlorinator in Cruz Verde
Photo of the water chlorinator in Cruz Verde
Checking chlorine levels in the community
Checking chlorine levels in the community's water
Pedro, Freddy, and Guillermo being interviewed
Pedro, Freddy, and Guillermo being interviewed
Freddy taking a stroll in Cruz Verde
Freddy taking a stroll in Cruz Verde
Sep 22, 2015

Solomon Turns Agriculture Waste to Productive Use

In Atwima Nwabiagya, many farmers engage in rice farming for both personal consumption and as a cash crop. After harvesting the rice, much of the rice straw remaining is considered waste. Some farmers throw away the rice straw away, while others burn it leading to environmental pollution. Many farmers continue this practice just as farmers before them did, unaware of the environmental impact.

Solomon is a thirty-three year old graduate from the University of Education, Winneba Campus where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education. He and his wife, Abigail, have one son, and cultivate a rice farm in Atwima Nwabiagya.

Solomon completed a training course at the Fran Mueller & Virginia Lageschulte Young Adult Training Center in Feburary 2015, where he learned about mushroom production. Just like the other graduates, he learned how to compost using sawdust, another common “waste” product from the mills. However, sawdust has not been as readily available lately due to roling power outages in Ghana which have lead to lumber mills producing only a fraction of the outputs, and therefore a fraction the sawdust.

Solomon decided to diversify his business pursuits by adding in mushroom production. In order to maximize returns on his investment, he explored an innovative idea: to tap into this wasteful material he had ready access to on his farm, and turn the rice straw “waste” into compost for his mushroom. In March, Solomon started a pilot study by collecting most of the straw produced nearby test out his theory that rice straw could be used in place of sawdust for compost for mushroom production. Despite the rice straw substitution, the mushrooms grew and he was able to successfully start up a new enterprise. In fact, the yields of oyster mushrooms were higher than those produced using sawdust compost. The straw produces mushrooms much bigger in sizes than the sawdust. Consumers appear to prefer the larger mushrooms to smaller ones.

Mushroom production is now a family business. The enterprise supports the livelihoods of both Solomon and his wife, Abigail, who was previously unemployed, but is now the sales person for their home business. This innovative trial was observed by a Self-Help internship student, who plans to re-create the trial for her final year capstone project. The results will be shared with all future trainees so they are able to make the most informed decision about how to re-purpose readily available materials in their mushroom production pursuits.

Thank you for your support of Self-Help’s Young Adult Training Center in its mission to alleviate youth un(der)employment in Ghana. Your support empowers Solomon and other young adults like him with the training and start-up capital they need to start new ventures and better provide for their families.

From today, September 21, through Friday, September 25, GlobalGiving will be offering a one-time 100% match on all new recurring donations up to $200 per donor! To qualify for the match, donors must give for at least four consecutive months. You can read complete terms and conditions here: https://www.globalgiving.org/recurring-donations-matched/limited-time/?utm_source=GlobalGiving+Project+Leader+Newsletter&utm_campaign=03b87008c1-September_2015_PL_Newsletter9_9_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e74b9ca250-03b87008c1-391646337 . Please consider the gift that keeps on giving with a recurring donation to the Young Adult Training Center. Click the link to donate now: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ghana-training-center-for-2500-young-farmers/?show=recurring .

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