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Jun 20, 2019

Adriana is Turning Dreams into Reality

Adriana smiling in her kitchen.
Adriana smiling in her kitchen.

Adriana is a 51-year-old small business owner and single mother of five from the community of Las Azucenas, Nicaragua. Adriana’s high school daughter helps her prepare fresh, natural juices for her business, and her youngest child helps her out around the house. I am very proud to have someone like Adriana in our program. She has outstanding participation, helps her team, and has big dreams for improving her life. She is a very hard-working woman, homemaker, and business owner.

Since 2015, Adriana has been part of various community groups of women participating in Self-Help International's micro-credit program that have changed over time. Since joining the Self-Help micro-credit program, Adriana’s goals and ideas have evolved. First, she wanted an oven to be able to make bread, pastries, cakes, and pizza. Through her own efforts and by working with our program, she managed to build a kitchen that she didn't have before.

With our training program, Adriana learned to save $200 and is operating her own loan plan from her piggy bank. Whatever she takes from her savings, she puts back into her piggy bank with 10% interest. Her savings come from selling her pastries on the bus, at the health center, and at the Ministry of Education.

Adriana’s truly a pioneer, and she’s usually on her feet at the crack of dawn to sell her product. At 9 a.m. you can find her at the park selling her enchiladas, tacos, and natural juices. She is very charismatic and is known as the woman with her apron always on. Participating in the different trainings offered by Self-Help over the years has allowed Adriana to have a vision for her business, save money, and invest little by little in the re-construction and expansion of her kitchen. She’s bought crockery, tables, chairs, tablecloths, kitchen utensils, etc.

Adriana invested her savings in purchasing an improved oven. She changed out her wood stove for a gas stove with an oven, which reduced her exposure to smoke pollution that was harmful to her health. She was also able to construct a bathroom and toilet inside her house. All of these things have helped her get ahead in preparing her fast food menu - tacos, burritos, enchiladas, sandwiches, hamburgers, soft drinks, etc. Adriana’s kitchen is evolving, and the improvements to her home are helping her achieve her dreams

Adriana is one of six women who graduated from the course of micro-entrepreneurs with more than 50 hours of coursework on finances, marketing, and business. She studied every lesson in the manual, which helped her make her own business plan. In Adriana's business plan, we discovered that her dream is to transform her humble home into a restaurant and to offer her delicious dishes to all travelers. That dream will hopefully come true with the help of Self-Help International. She is grateful for all the support that we’ve provided, and she has started construction on her restaurant. She is going to name her restaurant, “Genesis,” after her daughter.

Adriana with her many baked goods.
Adriana with her many baked goods.
Adriana hard at work.
Adriana hard at work.
Adriana's improved oven.
Adriana's improved oven.
Jun 13, 2019

The Determination of a Teenage Mother

Diana with her son.
Diana with her son.

All parents dream to see their children succeed academically or in other endeavors, but the ups and downs of life can often interfere with this dream. Diana, a 15-year-old mother from Kukubuso, a small village in the Ashanti region of Ghana, decided that she was going to overcome the challenges she was facing.

Diana’s father struggled to care for his nine children, so when Diana was in elementary school, he sent her to live with her aunt. For a few years, this was a very positive experience for Diana. Diana’s aunt provided for all of Diana’s basic needs and paid her school fees; however, things changed when Diana started junior high school. Her aunt stopped supporting her and no longer provided food or school fees. Diana didn’t know what to do.

As Diana was beginning her second year of junior high school, she found out she was pregnant. Diana could no longer stay with her aunt, and she returned to Kukubuso to live with her parents once again.

“The father denied responsibility for the baby, so I had to rely on my parents for food and other necessities, which I know has never been easy for them”, Diana shared.

Diana was not getting enough to eat, she was losing weight, and after giving birth, she was having difficulty providing adequate breast milk for her baby.

When Diana joined the Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children program, Self-Help International staff nutritionists completed assessments on her and her baby. Diana’s baby was stunted, an indicator of malnutrition, and Diana herself was malnourished as well. Babies who experience sustained malnutrition early in life are unable to reach full cognitive development, affecting their ability to learn and their productivity for the rest of their lives.

Self-Help nutritionists advised Diana on healthy eating and supplied her with a high protein porridge food supplement and an egg a day to address her immediate nutritional needs. Diana received counseling on breastfeeding and connected with a respectable and experienced mother in the community to provide ongoing support and lactation coaching.

Diana was always eager to listen to the lessons and advice given during Self-Help nutritional education sessions. Her punctuality and attentiveness at meetings was exceptional. As staff continued to monitor her and her baby, it became apparent she was putting all the lessons into practice. Her baby moved from the third percentile of stunting to the 50th percentile, putting him on track to achieve full physical and cognitive development.

“Although I am not independent now, I know I can do something better for myself and my son with the advice and help from Self-Help,” Diana said proudly.

She started a broom business in Kukubuso. In order to care for her baby, Diana accepted that she would need to move past her dream of returning to school and becoming a police officer - she needed to focus on her business and her baby. Self-Help staff talked with Diana and her parents about the importance of education for both Diana and her baby. Her parents have agreed to help Diana continue her education once the child matures.

Diana’s ability and commitment to improving the health status of her baby, as a teenage mother, is highly commendable. She is determined to continue raising a healthy son and pursue her dreams, and for the first time, feels that both are possible.

Diana working at her broom business.
Diana working at her broom business.
Diana working hard at her business.
Diana working hard at her business.
Jun 3, 2019

Mercy Transforms Passion in to Profit

Mercy at TGC meeting. Photo by Dela Aniwa.
Mercy at TGC meeting. Photo by Dela Aniwa.

Mercy was the only girl from Bedabour, a community in the Ashanti region of Ghana, to attend senior high school in 2014. Mercy dreamt of becoming a fashion designer, so she was determined to study clothing and textiles in senior high school. After completing school, Mercy wasn’t able to find a job in her field, but she was still determined to pursue her dream.

Mercy returned to Bedabour and started helping with the Teen Girls Club. During that time, Self-Help International staff coordinated a training on bead work with both the Teen Girls Club and the micro-credit program in the community. Mercy learned how to use beads to embellish shoes and sandals, and she saw a new opportunity to use her love for design. With assistance from her mother, who was also a part of the training, she was able to perfect her skill.

Mercy knew she could translate this new skill in to work in fashion and design. Mercy’s older brother and uncle were cobblers in Kumasi, the capital of the region, and Mercy asked to join them in their venture. She added value to the shoes and slippers her brother produced by using beads to design them and by stamping the sizes on the shoes. This helped increase the price they could sell the shoes in the market because of the new design and branding.

Mercy is able to utilize the practical skills she gained in school and, through Self-Help’s trainings, she is able to support herself and establish a savings to continue to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion designer.

Mercy designing shoes.
Mercy designing shoes.
Mercy and her uncle in his shop.
Mercy and her uncle in his shop.
Mercy and her mother.
Mercy and her mother.

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