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Aug 22, 2019

An Interview with Najaahat, a Young Woman with Big Dreams

Najaahat is one of the pioneers of the Self-Help International Teen Girls Club program. She was attending junior high school when the Teen Girls Club in Bedabour was founded. Bedabour is a community in the Ashanti region of Ghana where Najaahat lives with her parents and three older siblings. Najaahat completed junior high school in 2016 and was admitted to Islamic Senior High in Kumasi. She studied Home Economics and wants to become a nurse in the future. 

Najaahat is active with club activities when she is home on school vacations, and she previously served as president of the club. She sat down with Self-Help International staff for an interview to celebrate her completing her senior high school exams. 


SHI: What do you want to become in future?

Najaahat: I want to become a senior nurse. I know it has not been easy and there are still mountains to climb, but I am determined.

SHI: Why do you say it has not been easy?

Najaahat: During my primary school days, I had limited access to learning materials. My community, Bedabour, has no electricity, so studying at night was a challenge. Additionally, as a daughter, I had to help with household chores after school, so the only time I had for my private studies was in the evening. I sat by a lantern in the cold while the mosquitos disturbed me.

If I got a chance during school hours, I would study privately - this is how I gained admission to senior high school.

SHI: Islamic Senior High School is in the city with electricity and running water, so it certainly provided a more favourable environment for academic activities.

Najaahat: It was such a joy going to senior high school and I will always give thanks to my parents and Self-Help for making this possible. 

As a rural girl, studying with electricity for the first time was a pleasant relief. I did not want to go to sleep, but I had to obey bedtime rules. Students were not allowed to study after 9 PM.  

My parents had to bear all of the expenses for attending senior high school. My parents did their best to take care of my personal needs and provide stationery supplies. There were some rough days, like when I was sent home for defaulting on a payment; but, thankfully, Self-Help’s Teen Girls Club came to my rescue most of the time, and they advised me and encouraged me to stay focused. I will always remember the Sunday when a staff member from Self-Help visited me on campus. I felt so happy. It was a pleasant surprise. 

SHI: What are you proud of?

Najaahat: I am proud of being one of the few rural girls who could complete senior high school. I am able to read my mother’s letters and text messages for her. I know one day I will get a good job and take care of myself and my family.


Despite all the challenges that came Najaahat’s way, she was able to stay focused through senior high school. According to her, the support of her parents and the Teen Girls Club brought her this far and kept her motivated. 

She concluded the interview by saying: “I wish to express my profound gratitude to the coordinators of the Teen Girls Club and Self Help for supporting me and helping me become who I am today. Thank you.”

Aug 19, 2019

Clean Water Improves the Health of Caracito Families

Child at Caracito community meeting
Child at Caracito community meeting

Justa is member of one of the 46 families benefiting from clean water in the Caracito community in the San Carlos municipality of Nicaragua. She arrived in the community in 1990 with her husband and two children – an 11-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter. 

“After we moved to the community, my family grew to include eight people – my husband, myself and our six chilrden. Now, there’s only two kids left at home,” Justa said.

“I remember how the water quality used to be poor. My kids got sick with diarrhea and vomiting, and there was no way to disinfect the water,” Justa said. “We drank from water sources that were totally crude and contaminated, but we had to drink it like that – it was all we had.”

“Then, an organization named ASODELCO came to our community to help build pipelines to supply more houses with water; but without chlorination, our community’s children continued to get sick,” Justa added.

Gilma, the current nursing assistant in Caracito’s health post, used to see 15 to 20 cases of diarrhea per month and she saw two cases leptospirosis due to contaminated water that people were drinking. 

She pointed out that the people who had the most problems were children because children are the most vulnerable to contaminated water.

Justa agreed and said that they asked ASODELCO to coordinate with another organization about coming and visiting the community to speak about water contamination. 

“ASODELCO held meetings with families from the community to deal with the contaminated water problem, and Mr. Segio Ríos, who works for the Ministry of Health, gave a presentation about the importance of water chlorination,” Justa said.

“Alongside ASODELCO, we contacted Self-Help International’s Clean Water Program Officer, Orlando, so that they’d be able to help us with chlorinating the water,” Justa said.

“Self-Help came to the community to do a test of the water to see how contaminated it was and to see how we could fix the problem,” Justa said.

“Once Self-Help figured out that the water was contaminated, all the families of the community met and asked for Self-Help’s services through ASODELCO,” Justa said. “We sought Self-Help’s support in installing a chlorinator to disinfect the water that our community was drinking.”

“Now, it’s been two years that we’ve been using the chlorinator to eliminate water contamination,” Justa added. “The chlorinator was installed in a new pipe that ASODELCO built. The directors of our local Water and Sanitation Committee (CAPS) are in charge of putting chlorination tablets in it every eight days so that there is enough chlorination for the water every day.”

“I’m pleased and grateful that clean water improved the health of my community’s families. All the children are drinking chlorinated water which is free of microbes. This is a big deal, because they are healthier than they used to be,” Justa said.

Justa outside her home
Justa outside her home
Gilma, the nursing assistant in Caracito
Gilma, the nursing assistant in Caracito
Aug 5, 2019

Sometimes Rabbits Need Parenting Lessons, Too

Bunnies at the training center!
Bunnies at the training center!

Rabbit farming is a profitable business venture that is gaining recognition throughout Ghana and around the world. It is one of the “trendy” agribusiness ideas from which people can earn a lot of money. It is also very easy to start up because it requires only a little bit of capital, time, labor, and space. Demand for rabbit meat is also increasing due to its reputation for having a higher amount of digestible protein and a lower amount of fat and cholesterol than other meat available in Ghana. 

In addition to meat production, rabbits can be used for other income sources. For example, rabbit urine can be used by farmers as an insecticide and a fertilizer; rabbit skin and fur can be used in the production of clothes; and a rabbit’s droppings can be used as food for tilapia for farmers with fish ponds. 

Looking at how lucrative this business venture is, it became a priority for Self-Help International’s Young Adult Training Center to offer hands-on training in raising rabbits to its clients. However, there were some challenges.

In February 2018, there was only one female rabbit, and she had been labeled as a “bad mother” due to her inability to care for her babies on four different occasions. Initially, Self-Help made the decision to sell her; but, the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Development (AED) team reassessed the situation and saw the inability of the mother rabbit to care for her babies as an opportunity to explore possible solutions. The thought was that learning from the mother could lead to new information to include in  training sessions and disseminate to rabbit farmers. 

The female rabbit was introduced to a male rabbit for mating, and she delivered seven bunnies, two of which died at birth. The remaining five babies were fed twice daily (once in the morning and once in the evening) by holding the female rabbit and allowing the bunnies to breastfeed. This process was done for a period of two to three weeks and all five bunnies survived. 

After two months, the female rabbit was once again introduced to a male rabbit in order to observe if there had been changes in the way she took care of her babies. The female rabbit gave birth to one baby bunny a month later, and the baby bunny was critically observed daily to see if the mother had been feeding it. The mother breastfed the bunny and took care of it without being held or forced.

Of the bunnies from her first litter, three of the five were also poor parents to their own offspring. The same process and approach was used on them to turn them into successful parents.

As of July 2019, the training center has 26 rabbits and counting from that one female rabbit tagged as a “bad mother.” This number could have been greater, but the training center was limited due to a lack of space for new rabbits.

In 2019 alone, the AED team has been able to train four new entrepreneurs to build their knowledge and skills on appropriate practices in rabbit rearing and all four have started with their business. Two existing farmers who were having a challenge with their rabbits giving birth have been assisted to overcome that challenge.

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