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 Children  Ghana Project #4027

End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana

by Self-Help International
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
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.
Elizabeth and her son, Derrick
Elizabeth and her son, Derrick

Elizabeth, a mother of two from the village of Beposo in southern Ghana, joined Self-Help's “Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children (GHFGHC)” maternal-child nutrition program when it first launched in 2018. Although she knew it was for children under the age of two and that her 18-month-old son, Derrick, would soon age out of the program, she was committed to learning as much as she could about proper nutrition to ensure a healthy diet for her children.

“I was very determined to improve both my life and the life of my kids,” Elizabeth shared, reflecting on the reason she became involved with the GHFGHC program.

By participating regularly in weekly training sessions, Elizabeth learned from Self-Help's trainers about the importance of Vitamin A in children’s diets, and during the minor rainy season, July - mid-October, she observed other mothers in the program growing orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP). The vines were in short supply, so she was among the second group to be able to access the vines to grow OFSP on her own farm.

Difficult First Steps

Elizabeth received her vines at the start of the dry season and was not be able to rely on rain water to grow her crops; instead, she had to transport water from a local river or stream by walking two-thirds of a mile each way from her farm to the river and carrying the heavy load of water back to her farm. Because of the difficulties transporting water, Elizabeth did not initially intend to plant any crops during the dry season; but after learning about the benefits of OFSP and receiving starter vines from Self-Help, she decided she would take on the challenge.

“Self-Help taught us mothers how to cultivate OFSP and supplied us with the vines to begin growing it. I was not sure this new crop was going to do well,” Elizabeth said. “We were told it needed water, especially during the first two weeks after cultivation. It was nearly the end of the rainy season when we learned this, and the rains had almost stopped coming in Beposo. I decided to give it a try anyway, and I dedicated time to watering my crop.”

Luckily, Elizabeth’s tireless efforts paid off.

“My dedication was not in vain because I have reaped the fruits of my labour. The crop did very well, and I started harvesting late December 2018,” Elizabeth said.

The Importance of Education

Providing education to increase knowledge is central to all of the programs at Self-Help International. Self-Help is constantly seeking ways to equip clients and partners with accurate and relevant information to help them make sound decisions to improve their lives. It is vital that the new information is able to be integrated in to the daily lives of Self-Help participants.

“Self-Help also taught us some OFSP recipes as hands-on practical training, so I already knew how to use the tubers before the crop was even ready for harvest,” Elizabeth shared. “My family really loves all the dishes prepared from OFSP, and  my little boy really loves the chips and the OFSP leaves sauce.”

Reaping the Benefits

Elizabeth’s vines have continued to grow and are even extending into neighboring farms. She plans to cut some of her vines and share them with other mothers in the program and community members so they can also grow OFSP. She is continuing to share the benefits of her education and the OFSP itself.

“I am not the only one enjoying this harvest,” Elizabeth said. “I have given some to the other mothers who are part of the GHFGHC program to cook for their families.”

“As the popular saying goes ‘sharing is caring,’ and I strongly believe this is the reason why Self-Help supporters are also sharing with us: to make it possible for us to live a life with dignity. A very big thank you to all of Self-Help’s supporters. Your gifts are really going a long way to help us and our children,” Elizabeth added.

Elizabeth is an exemplary leader, both as a farmer and as a mother concerned with her children's health. While her son, Derrick, has now aged out of the intensive first 1,000 days intervention, Elizabeth and Derrick still regularly attend training sessions, which are free to all of the community, so she can continue to learn about new ways to support her two children at home.

From April 8-12, GlobalGiving will match donations of up to $50 to Self-Help's projects at 50%! That means that by making a donation of $40 today, GlobalGiving will give an additional $20, so you can sponsor three months of nutrition intervention for a mother and her baby! Read complete terms and conditions here.

Elizabeth with her OFSP
Elizabeth with her OFSP
Gathering OFSP
Gathering OFSP

Links:

Akosua with Lapope.
Akosua with Lapope.

It is often sad to see malnourished women and their children in our rural communities. The question that comes to mind is: why are these communities that produce food for people in the urban areas malnourished? Could this be attributed to inadequate knowledge about food preparation methods or food distribution in the households?

This is the situation in the village of Beposo, Ghana and Akosua, a 20-year-old mother of one, told Self-Help staff in Ghana how she’s starting to address this issue.  Akosua joined the Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children (GHFGHC) program last year.

“I got pregnant again when Lapope, my daughter, was 12 months old, and this compelled me to stop breastfeeding her. I realized my daughter was losing weight, but I didn’t know what to do because accessing food had always been a challenge for my family,” Akosua said.  “‘Diversified meal’ was not in our dictionary - the only food in our diet was akple, a dish made from corn flour and grinded pepper, and sometimes ayoyo, a green leafy vegetable soup. Any leftover akple would be mashed with sugar for breakfast and sometimes lunch.”

“My family depended on this for survival for many years until, one day, a friend told me about Self-Help International and its program,” Akosua said.  “Although I registered with the program as an expectant mother, I attended meetings with my 19-month-old daughter. The moment the nutrition officer saw my girl, he noticed she was malnourished and registered her into the program as well.

“My girl and I were supplied with a food supplement called Tom Brown, which is a mixture of Quality Protein Maize (QPM), ground nuts, and water. Upon further nutritional analysis of my girl and me, we were given eggs to help improve both our macro and micro nutrient status”.

Lapope was further supplied with Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) by Self-Help to help her catch up with her growth, after she had been confirmed by a medical officer that she had no medical condition.

Akosua told Self-Help, “With these food supplements, my girl is now growing well and I can confidently say my unborn child will be born healthy.  I cannot say my household is completely food secure, but one thing I know is: the headache of not knowing what to eat for breakfast is now a thing of the past.  Many women from Beposo have benefited from this program - my family and I have been saved by this program”.

More importantly, Akosua and 69 other women from Beposo and surrounding areas have received the knowledge and skills to grow QPM, a vital component in the Tom Brown supplement.  With the onset of rains in March 2019, they are going to receive fertilizers, seeds, and herbicides to grow their own QPM and other nutritious crops such as orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) to feed their family and ensure a healthy community full of strong and energetic children to help realize the dreams of Ghana.

Akosua, Lapope, and Jesse during training.
Akosua, Lapope, and Jesse during training.
Akosua receiving supplements from Jesse.
Akosua receiving supplements from Jesse.

Links:

Amidu with with family.
Amidu with with family.

Amidu lives in the rural village of Ama Badu in Ghana and serves as the PTA chairman of the local primary school.  He lives with his family, including his two daughters and one son, named Sumaila (5 years old), Faizatu (4 years old) and Muniratu (2 years old). Both Sumaila and Faizatu attend Ama Badu primary and are served breakfast at school every day due to Self-Help International's school feeding program.

Amidu’s family are farmers that believe one of the best things to ever happen to their community is Self-Help's school feeding program. The program has contributed to increased school enrollment and attendance. It has also brought relief to parents with school-aged children by eliminating the need to get breakfast ready before school starts and providing reassurance that their children well get fed that day.

“The school feeding program is the anchor to the foundation of our primary school.” Amidu explained “I live here and have seen how the feeding program has caught the attention of the people of Ama Badu and beyond. Before the introduction of the program, many students stayed home, a situation I initially attributed to the high rates of illiteracy among their parents.”

Christopher, the headmaster of the Ama Badu primary school, told Self-Help International,  “Amidu has taken it upon himself to ensure that the one-acre Quality Protein Maize (QPM) school farm that ensures a regular supply of maize for school breakfast is free of weeds. He purchases and sprays herbicides at no cost to the school.”

Amidu believes his kindness comes from his firm belief in the SHI school feeding program.

With support from Amidu and likeminded parents whose children benefit from the feeding program, the program will gradually become self-sustaining. Amidu constantly tells community members, “Let’s work hard in support of this program and own it for future generations!”

Over 700 school children in rural Ghana are fed breakfast prepared from QPM every school day, which has resulted in increased enrollment and attendance. The program is helping to build a sense of pride and ownership among community members, which are key in community development. With their dedication and passion, community members like Amidu make projects like Self-Help’s school feeding program possible.

QPM plot at Ama Badu primary school.
QPM plot at Ama Badu primary school.
QPM plot at Ama Badu primary school.
QPM plot at Ama Badu primary school.
Grace, Janet, and Abigail
Grace, Janet, and Abigail

Janet (8) and her sister Abigail (6) live with their mom, Grace, in Beposo in the Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region. Though their mother never attended school herself, she vows to give them the best education possible. Each morning, she sends them off to school in Beposo where they start their day with a protein-rich breakfast porridge. 

Grace is multi-skilled, diversifying her petty trading and ready to try new things. In order to provide for her children, she egages in many business ventures. On any given day she might be selling kenkey, doughnuts, or bananas, depending on when you catch her.

When asked why she works so hard, Grace's reason is simple: “As a single mother with two children, I have a lot of load on my shoulders with no one to help and if I don’t do it no one will.” 

The inability of many rural entrepreneurs to diversify their businesses has led to the premature collapse of businesses which could have provided jobs to young people, to support their education and reduce incidents of crime. Grace is determined to provide for her children, using whatever skills and resources are available to her. By diversifying her businesses, Grace is better able to capitalize on when different items are in ready supply, keeping her costs low and selling what is most in demand. 

Though she is a hard worker and doing her best to educate her children, life for a single mother is not always easy. Knowing her children will get a healthy breakfast each morning helps lighten her load. 

The SHI QPM school feeding program has been of great benefit to my family. My mind is always at rest knowing that my little girls will be served breakfast at school. This program has really helped me a lot. It has made it easier for me to take care of my daughters.”

Thank you for your generous support, which eases the burden on single mothers like Grace. 

International Youth Week is August 6-12! During this time, GlobalGiving is generously matching new recurring gifts. Can we count on you to change lives of more children like Janet and Abigail? Start your monthly giving today! Give the gift of health and brighter futures! 

Abigail enjoying QPM tom brown at school
Abigail enjoying QPM tom brown at school
Grace selling kenkey
Grace selling kenkey
A whole classroom enjoying breakfast before class!
A whole classroom enjoying breakfast before class!

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Self-Help International

Location: Waverly, IA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @SelfHelpIntl
Project Leader:
Nora Tobin
Waverly, Iowa United States
$36,267 raised of $43,000 goal
 
667 donations
$6,733 to go
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