Mar 18, 2021

Akosua Receives Life-Changing Support from Self-Help's Nutrition Team

Akosua and her baby.
Akosua and her baby.

Patience Obour, Self-Help International’s Nutrition Program Officer and Nutrition Team Lead, sat down with Akosua in February 2021 to hear about her experience in the Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children (GHFGHC) program in Beposo, Ghana. The GHFGHC program works with new and expectant mothers on proper nutrition for themselves and their babies. 

“My name is Akosua, I am 16 years old, and I am a mother. I became pregnant in my final year of Junior High School.

When I realized I was pregnant, I knew I needed to go for prenatal care but I was afraid because of what I had heard from other teenage mothers in the community. The other mothers said that when they went for prenatal care, the nurses mistreated them because they were teenagers.

I decided to enroll in the GHFGHC program in Beposo because of what I had heard from other mothers about Self-Help’s nutrition team. I heard that they were doing marvelous work for both expectant and lactating mothers in the community. I also had the opportunity to hear Self-Help’s team educating another pregnant woman on what type of food to eat during pregnancy. 

I was a little reluctant to join the program because I am a teenager and I thought I was joining a program for grown-ups, but I decided to be bold and join.

During one of the program’s meeting days, I went to the team and told them that I was interested in joining the program. The team asked me about my prenatal record card, which I didn’t have. I told the team about my fears to attend a prenatal exam, and they explained to me the pros and cons of not attending getting checked.

I changed my mind and decided to attend my prenatal exam, and I am so glad I listened to Self-Help’s advice - I got to learn more about the health of my unborn baby, and I was treated so well by the nurses even though I am a teenager.

I am thankful for the Self-Help team and the nutritional supplement they provide (high-protein porridge and eggs). This supplement was lifesaving for me every morning before my baby was born, and it is now lifesaving for both my child and I. I know the supplement helped me give birth to a healthy baby.”

Mar 11, 2021

Ramona Loves to Support Her Family with Her Business Income

Ramona.
Ramona.

Self-Help International’s Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP) provides women and their families training so they can improve their lives. One of the training sessions focuses on self-esteem for rural women and their communities. In many rural Nicaraguan communities, women sometimes find themselves in a traditional lifestyle where men are in charge of household expenses while women stay at home with the children.

Self-Help’s training works with women to help them generate creative business ideas. These women have become businesswomen who receive loans from Self-Help to start or invest in their small businesses. With the profits from their businesses and increased family income, the women are able to improve their quality of life, help with their children’s education, and support their households.

Ramona is a partner with the Women’s Empowerment Program from the community of Laurel Galán, Nicaragua where she has lived for the past 20 years. She is married with three children. To support the family, Ramona’s husband sells fish to the nearby community of Los Chiles on Tuesdays and Fridays, maintaining his family’s long-standing tradition.

Ramona makes cuajadas (a type of milk curd), cheeses, and creams which her husband sells alongside his fish. Over the years, Ramona and her husband were able to use their profits to buy a small home where they live with their children.

In 2018, Ramona’s mother-in-law invited Ramona to participate in Self-Help’s WEP meetings. Ramona felt shy about attending because she didn’t know other participants, but she agreed to join the group. She was curious at the training sessions, asking many questions about the various training topics. She was most intrigued by a training on effective money saving strategies in which participants set savings goals for the year. 

“That day I set a goal to save money because I wanted to buy a casserole dish to make nacatamales for my business and a wardrobe to store my clothes. Business wasn’t good at the time, so I thought it would help if I could sell nacatamales on the weekends,” Ramona said.

“I was happy with the achievements I was making in the training group, so I decided to request a loan to invest in the purchase of milk to make cuajada to sell. With my loan, I purchased 10 gallons of milk to make 20 cuajadas and 6 pounds of cream,” Ramona said.

“My husband was happy because I was able to help him expenses at home,” Ramona added. “Even if he was busy, he would give me rides to the training sessions at Self-Help’s office in Quinta Lidia so that I didn’t miss them.” 

With Ramona’s second loan, she purchased 25 gallons of milk to produce more dairy products. Ramona has been able to set aside profits from those products for her daughter's education.

“When my daughter was a senior in high school, many expenses were approaching for her graduation and I hadn’t yet saved for my children's education,” Ramona said. “But, the sessions taught me how to save. In fact, I bought my children little plastic piggy banks to help them save for their higher education.”

“My daughter is now studying at university, and my goal is that my two other children also get university degrees,” Ramona said. “My family is happy to see me now as an empowered business woman, and I have goals to get ahead and expand my business.”

Ramona outside Self-Help's training center.
Ramona outside Self-Help's training center.
Ramona making food for her business.
Ramona making food for her business.
Feb 18, 2021

Getting to Apply Practical Ag Skills: the Role of Self-Help's Graduate Entrepreneurship Program

Richmond's greenhouse work.
Richmond's greenhouse work.

The unemployment rate for recent university graduates in Ghana is an increasing developmental problem. Unfortunately, teaching and learning in Ghana, especially in agriculture, are dominated by classroom lectures and presentations with limited practice opportunities for students. Graduates with agricultural backgrounds end up in other sectors unrelated to their ag training. 

Richmond graduated from Kwadaso Agricultural College in 2019 with a degree in General Agriculture. He served as the president of the Student Representative Council (SRC) from 2018-2019. He is originally from Axim in the Western Region of Ghana and both of his parents are farmers.

Richmond was recruited to Self-Help International’s Graduate Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) second cohort in 2019. He was the team leader of a group named VCJR. His team developed  a project that focused on the cultivation of maize (corn) and mushrooms. Prior to joining  the GEP cohort, Richmond did not have an extensive knowledge of practical agriculture.

During the one-year learning period with the GEP at Self-Help’s agriculture training center, the Self-Help team trained Richmond in practical agricultural practices, especially maize production. Through the training by Self-Help’s staff, Richmond’s team had a yield of 980 kilograms of maize on a 3600-meter square land (standard would be about 900kg per 4000-meters squared).  During his time at the training center, Richmond mastered the cultivation of maize and the production of mushrooms. 

In addition to his project at the training center, Richmond leased two more acres of land near the training center to cultivate maize on his own and to test the practices he had learned before he exited the program. He was very successful with the yield in his personal project.

Aside from the project Richmond’s team submitted to the GEP, Richmond also gained other valuable skills by traveling with Self-Help’s Agriculture Officers to communities for outreach services. He developed an interest in vegetable and fruit production, and he took it upon himself to cultivate tomatoes at the training center as an experiment. Richmond shared his findings with Self-Help’s partner farmers and people that visited the training center. 

At the end of his one year with the GEP, Richmond presented a proposal to go into raising pigs as a business enterprise in his home village. As of early 2021, Richmond has started this project and has six pigs, all pregnant. He has hired someone to take care of the pigs.

Richmond currently works with Agric Impact, a Ghana-based organization that works in greenhouse crop production. Due to his high performance, Richmond was assigned to be a team lead and was the only person invited to their center for the pilot of the entire project. He has started cultivating tomatoes, hoping to hit a target of 8 tons of tomatoes by the end of his production.

Richmond is always in touch with Self-Help’s team due to the good relationship he established during his year with GEP. During one of such conversations, he mentioned how the training he received during the GEP has helped him in his current position.

Richmond's greenhouse project.
Richmond's greenhouse project.
 
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