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 28, 2016

Akosua demonstrates creativity in her business

Akosua selling her handmade soaps to the community
Akosua selling her handmade soaps to the community

Meet Akosua, a thirty-eight year old woman from Timeabu, a village of about 500 people in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Akosua is a mother of six: three girls and three boys. She and her husband share the house with two other wives and six children. Though Akosua is hardworking, she comes from a poor background. She grew up in tough times, as her family worked hard to provide for her. They passed on the trait of ambition, as Akosua has worked diligently to provide more income for her children as they grow up. Her success story began two years ago, when Akosua joined Self-Help’s micro-credit program in Ghana.

However, before she joined the micro-credit program, her story was different. She worked with her husband on their farm. They had cocoa intercropped with food crops like cocoyam, cassava and plantain to provide a variety of sustenance to the family. Apart from farming, she had no other income source and therefore relied on her husband for her basic needs. “I was very unhappy as I virtually had to beg for money all the time from my husband,” she said.

In 2014, she was introduced to the Self-Help micro-credit program by some of the women who had benefited from the program in her village. Akosua already knew how to make soap, but could not properly put her skills to practice because she lacked the funding. In the past she had borrowed from family members and friends at unfavorable conditions with high interest rates and irregular repayment schedules. There were times she had to halt production completely due to inadequate funding for the supplies.

That’s when an opportunity fell into Akosua’s hands, finally giving her some ease. Through the Self-Help micro-credit program, she was able to access a loan of GHC 100 (then about $50 USD) at a market-based interest rate, much lower than what she had previously been able to access. She used her first loan to purchase the supplies to re-start her soap-making business. She paid her loan back on time each month, and was able to access greater levels of loans. Whereas before, she had to buy her soap-making materials from other vendors on credit at higher prices, now she is able to use her loan to buy the materials outright at better prices. Akosua’s soap business has created an additional source of income for her, and enabled her to feel much more independent.

Currently, she produces and markets soaps in and outside her community. Creatively, she has added attractive colors to add more value to her soap. On festive occasions, she wraps her soaps beautifully in colorful wrappers and people buy them as presents for their loved ones.

Akosua’s life story after her encounter with SHI micro-credit program has been different. She no longer begs her husband for money and can contributes financially towards her children’s upbringing. In early 2016, she decided to diversify her business by adding on processing and marketing of animal hide. The micro-credit team linked her to appropriate vendors with moderate prices in the Kumasi area, to be able to buy and sell the hides at competitive prices in her village.

Akosua now generates additional income to support her family. The micro-credit program has impacted her life greatly: she’s able to support her husband by helping take care of their children’s educational needs. Even though their first child could not go to school due to past economic hardship, her daughter is now an apprentice hairdresser and will soon be an independent stylist. The rest of the children are currently enrolled in school and it is Akosua’s dream that they become teachers, doctors and lawyers.

She is grateful for your support, which has transformed her life and the lives of many of her friends and fellow community members in Timeabu and across Ghana. 

Akosua with her newly decorated products
Akosua with her newly decorated products
Oct 27, 2016

Life from Maribel's Point of View

Meet Maribel
Meet Maribel

Why I care and why you should too.   

Imagine standing in an overcrowded bus aisle without any air conditioning on a humid 95-degree day. The bus is made to sit 40, but there’s 75 people struggling like you to get to work, so you reluctantly chose to pay and climb on, rather than wait for a bus that may not come by this stop again. The route over the unpaved mud-covered roads makes for a bumpy trip, so you tighten your grip, clinging to your basket filled of baked goods to sell (making sure you don’t lose any potential profits).

You’re tired. Because your commute takes over an hour, you reflect on your morning—how you woke up early to get your children dressed. You feel remorseful. A few days earlier, you had to make the tough decision to send them to school with a new school uniform, knowing that because of the cost, it meant you’d have to feed them less nutritious meals this month. But you justified this, knowing they’d be fed something, and didn’t want them to be made fun of by their peers at school. 

Tired. Uncertain. Making sacrifices. This is an average morning for women like Maribel. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. And it shouldn’t—having to choose between necessities leaves mothers uncertain they made the best choice they could. No one wants to feel that way. 

Often times, I meet people who want to help—offering to purchase their textbooks, notebooks, or other school supplies. And although this is a wonderful deed, one has to wonder why the children don’t already have them? Why can’t the mothers afford to buy them? 

I spent three months working with mothers and their families in Nicaragua, soaking it all in, in order to understand how I could help these communities. Giving fifty dollars to support one woman jump start her business goes a long way. Women like Maribel know their family’s needs, have a vision and business plan, and have darn good homemade recipes for their business (in Maribel’s case, it’s her amazing tamales).

When a group of 15 women come together to the training center in Ochomogo, they bring hope for a brighter future, encourage one another and serve as role models for their daughters. Micro-credit loans empower women so that they don’t have to sacrifice, wondering if they picked the right necessity. Mothers can have both, and as they watch their daughters grow, know that they will have options too. We’re working to ensure that fifteen more women will break the cycle of poverty and become leaders in communities. It’s about sustainability, and lending a hand to women who have to make tough choices everyday.


This is why I care – and why I’m writing to you now, to ask you to join in our mission to give opportunities to those who have none.  Help us issue loans to the fifteen women in Ochomogo who want to build a brighter future for their families.

Check out our new micro-project at:

 https://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/give-ochomogo-women-business-not-charity/.

  • $50 will offer an initial startup loan to a woman to create a small business. 
  • $140 will sponsor business training for one woman in Ochomogo to learn how to start her business. 
  • $20 / month covers all training & loans for one woman for 12 months


If you want to learn more or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email at jackie@selfhelpinternational.org or by phone at (319) 352-4040.


Sincerely,


Jacqueline Steinkamp 
SHI Communications & Development Officer

Women of Ochomogo ready to join the program
Women of Ochomogo ready to join the program
Ochomogo women eager to join the program
Ochomogo women eager to join the program
Sep 19, 2016

Clean Water- Not Just a Drop in the Bucket

Abigail with her child, discussing clean water
Abigail with her child, discussing clean water

Thanks to your support, we were able to install the 88th water chlorination system in southern Nicaragua, bringing clean, safe drinking water to 10,724 families. We know our work is not yet done, but we’re now more than half way to our goal of ensuring 20,000 families have safe drinking water every day – and all the health benefits that come with it.

I’m often asked, but how long does a system last?  Well, since it’s made with locally available, affordable, and easily replaceable parts…indefinitely.  In addition to bringing clean water to several new communities this summer, I’ve been visiting communities whose systems were installed several years ago to check up on the maintenance and how things are going.

One such community was La Esperanza No. 1, in Rio San Juan, Nicaragua, a community of 1,120 people. La Esperanza No. 1 installed a CTI-8 water chlorination system in July 2013. I visited with Abigail, Treasurer of the Drinking Water and Sanitation Committee, who proudly reported, “There have been significant decreases of diarrhea and kidney infections in the people of La Esperanza.”

Abigail has lived in this community for over 16 years with her two daughters. As she nursed her two-week-old baby, Abigail and her neighbor Candida commented on the faint smell of chlorine in their water when they use it to prepare meals. They say it’s a refreshing way of reminding them they can feed their families with confidence, knowing that the chlorine is killing the parasites.

Before installing the CTI-8 chlorinator system, the women said that their children were consistently suffering from diarrhea, but now things are different.  To find out exactly how successful the chlorinator is working in the community, I spoke with a doctor named Alexander, head of the La Esperanza No. 1 Health Center.

“Zero cases,” stated the doctor, “…there have been zero cases of diarrhea in children or any adults since the chlorinator has reached every household.”

That means less school missed, fewer cases of parasites, and fewer kidney infections for the children living in these neighborhoods.  For over three years, the community of La Esperanza No. 1 municipality of San Carlos has experienced better health conditions thanks to the installation of Self-Help’s CTI-8 Chlorinator.

After learning that there are no cases of diarrhea now, the two women smiled and replied, “We’re happy knowing that we’re drinking clean and safe water…thank you for bringing the CTI-8 chlorinator to us.”

Thank you for your support of our work to bring clean water to families like Abigail’s. As you consider how you can make an impact in the world, please consider supporting this project on Wednesday, September 21, when GlobalGiving.org will be offering $60,000 in matching funds for gifts made to this project! Learn more about the details here.

 
   

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