Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana

by Self-Help International
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Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Razak with daughter Faustina
Razak with daughter Faustina

***TODAY IS A BONUS MATCHING DAY - READ HOW YOU CAN INCREASE YOUR IMPACT BELOW***

Last July, we reported to you that in rural Ghana, quite a number of children spend time idle at home or with their parents on their farms rather than in school. The importance of formal education had not dawned on most parents within Beposo community in the Atwima Mponua District despite the nationwide push for primary education.  Now, six months later, we are finally seeing a shift in that attitude among parents in Beposo.

On February 9, I visited Beposo along with our school feeding program officers to talk with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) about how things are going in the community, and what their goals are for their children’s education. The strong turnout of parents at the midday meeting demonstrated their commitment to their children’s education, and what they shared was even more encouraging.

Razak is a farmer whose daughter Faustina is in the same class as Agnes and Akwasi. He shared that the school feeding program has been great for his family because it gives him peace of mind knowing his daughter will get breakfast, even if he has to go out to the farm before feeding the kids. 

“Since the feeding program was introduced, I feel much more at ease any time I leave the house for work because I know my daughter is in school and is being taken care of by the teachers and is being fed well,” said Razak.  “I feel at ease and feel relaxed with my work, and I appreciate the fact that the feeding program is here. I am very grateful.”

Razak’s story was not unique. Many of the parents spoke up to say that the school feeding program makes life a little easier and lessens their worries. Fathers like Razak set out for the farm early in the morning before children are up and about so they can get work done before the heat of the day gets unbearable and they have to take midday breaks. Mothers also have to leave very early in the morning to walk to other rural communities to sell their wares as petty traders or to take their produce to the local market on market day. Staying home to provide breakfast for children and see them off to school before going to work means missing income-generating opportunities that are critical to putting food on the table. Even in the dry season when food is more scarce, they know their children will eat breakfast.

Thank you for your support, which is easing the burden on hardworking mothers and fathers who want what we all want: what's best for their children. When you give a gift to support the school feeding program, you ensure that a child like Faustina gets the breakfast that she wouldn’t otherwise eat, ensuring that she starts the day well fed and ready to learn.

***Please support the school feeding program TODAY, MARCH 16 with a gift any time from now until Midnight Eastern / 11 PM Central. All donations made today will be matched so your gift nourishes even more children!!***

The PTA discusses school feeding program
The PTA discusses school feeding program
Parents share the impact on their children
Parents share the impact on their children

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Training with Dr. Kofi Boa at the No Till Center
Training with Dr. Kofi Boa at the No Till Center

Self-Help International's approach to alleviating hunger in Ghana is to "teach people how to fish" - or in this case how to farm - to better feed their families long after Self-Help is gone. Last year, six farmers (4 women and 2 men) from Bedaabour were trained and given credit for inputs to cultivate two acres of quality protein maize (QPM) each. Based on the successes recorded in improved yields and increased self-sufficiency, twenty more farmers (seven women and thirteen men) were selected in 2015.

All twenty farmers from Beposo, Bedaabour and Fankamawe participated in the improved agronomic training sessions at the No Till Center at Amanchia in March where Dr. Kofi Boa, renowned researcher and agronomist, trained them. The farmers learned, among other things, that to obtain maximum maize yields, every acre requires 10 kilograms (kg) of certified seed, 100 kg of fertilizer (NPK), 50 kg of Sulphate of Ammonia, 1 liter of Nicoplus (herbicide), and 2 liters of Sunphosate (herbicide). In addition to learning that, for rain-fed agriculture, time is of essence.

After the training, the farmers demonstrated a good understanding of the subjects taught during the training sessions, and some even shared their new knowledge and trained their colleague farmers who did not attend the training. But even with this new knowledge, not all of them had the funds necessary to buy the right quantities of inputs to put their knowledge into action and plant on time for the rains.

After seeing the commitment these farmers had to improving their livelihoods by implementing improved farming practices, Self-Help drew up loan agreement documents and provided credit for the inputs needed to ensure farmers could plant on time and repay the loan in kind after harvest. This enabled the farmers to plant on time as well as apply the right quantities of fertilizers and herbicides to maximize yields.

The farmers planted in April and harvested in the first week of August. SHI, together with the farmers, monitored farmlands to ensure strict adherence to the farmers’ trainings. The yield was tremendous compared to past years: double the yields! Typically, farmers from these villages yield between four and six bags of maize per acre, but this season they recorded at least ten bags of quality protein maize (QPM) per acre.

The farmers emphasized that learning and implementing improved agronomic methods to cultivate maize were the key factors in doubling their yields. The farmers tell SHI that they will always choose Obatanpa (an open pollinated variety of QPM) seeds anytime they cultivate maize in the future because is the best out of all of the local varieties in terms of yield and nutrition. Best of all, they also promise to grow more maize to support the school feeding programs in their respective communities.

At harvest time, the market price for a 110 kg bag of maize was GHC120. If sold, it would have resulted in a net loss for the farmer, so SHI collects loans from farmers in kind rather than requiring farmers to market their maize and pay in cash to ensure they do not sell at a loss. Part of this maize will be used to prepare breakfast for pre-school children within the SHI school feeding program, and the rest sold to purchase inputs for farmers next season.

To avoid selling their maize at a loss, farmers must store their remaining maize until the market price increases. Yet storage is a huge challenge facing farmers in Ghana due to inadequate space and storage structures. Self-Help supports farmers with additional loans so they can purchase silos and other storage facilities to ensure they are able to sell their miaze at a profit, and teaches farmers how to treat and store maize properly: removing it from the cob, winnowing and sun drying before storing it stored in silos to prevent spoilage.

Supporting farmers to own silos and other storage facilities helps better their lots and sustain their resolve to contribute to alleviating hunger.  We need your help to continue to educate and serve twenty more farmers in Ghana next year, who are eager to learn improved practices.

Please consider making a recurring monthly donation to Self-Help International to help with day to day costs of the training center. A donation of $20/month will provide training and inputs to three farmers each season so they can better feed their families and their communities for many seasons to come.

SHI providing loans in the form of farm inputs
SHI providing loans in the form of farm inputs
SHI&its farmers monitoring selected farmer's crops
SHI&its farmers monitoring selected farmer's crops
Shelling maize with the new maize sheller
Shelling maize with the new maize sheller
This year's harvest of maize sun drying
This year's harvest of maize sun drying
Maize stored in silos,awaiting higher market price
Maize stored in silos,awaiting higher market price
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Samuel ensures Agnes gets to school daily
Samuel ensures Agnes gets to school daily

Agnes was born on September 7th, 2011, to Paul and Comfort of Beposo in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Paul and Comfort prayed earnestly for a first female child, Agnes was considered an answered prayer from God. Being the only female and the youngest of three children, her parents had a lot of hope in her.

This hope was short-lived. Paul tells SHI, at age three Agnes could hardly talk or walk properly. It was difficult for her to mingle with her peers. At one point, they suspected Agnes was deaf but weren’t able to access proper healthcare. The family began moving from one prayer camp to another. In Ghana, a prayer camp is where a group of people meet to pray for weeks and months to God for miracles to take place in their lives.

Finally, on February 4th 2015, Agnes enrolled at the Beposo Islamic Basic school where she is served breakfast prepared from Quality Protein Maize (QPM) every morning. She would go to school every morning staggering or being carried on the back of her elder brother, Samuel. It was very challenging at first but with support from the QPM team and their parents their prayers were answered.

Through continuous interactions with peers and regular protein intake, Agnes’s speech is much better. She recites poems and rhymes and she is no longer shy of peers. Though, she still walks with difficulty, there is improvement.

The Self-Help QPM team measures the weights and heights of beneficiary children quarterly to track impact. In April of 2015, Agnes weighed 28.5 pounds (13 kg) and was 32 inches tall. In August she weighed 32 pounds (14.5 kg), an increase of more than 10 percent of her body weight (3.5 pounds/1.5 kg), in just 4 months.  Her father refers to the physical improvements as ‘bonus’ in addition to her mental improvements.

In addition to supporting school feeding programs, the QPM team takes time to train parents and teachers about the importance of protein consumption to childhood brain development. The faith of Paul and Comfort in the production and utilization of QPM has increased. They no longer say “every maize is maize” but rather place premium on maize with high protein content. They are among twenty-three farmers who willingly offered to grow QPM to support the Beposo School Feeding Program in the Atwima Mponua District of Ghana.

Continuously supporting the feeding program will not only restore hope in the lives of people such as Agnes, but will also ensure the production and availability of food to feed the growing world population.

When you make a donation tomorrow, Wednesday, September 16th, it will be matched by 30 percent.  Starting at 8 a.m. CDT GlobalGiving is matching all donations made through globalgiving.org up to $1,000 per donor at 30%. There is $70,000 available in matching and we’re offering $6,000 in bonus awards! Matching will last until funds run out, so to earn the match aim to donate as close to 8 a.m. CDT as possible. Click the give now button below to improve the lives of children like Agnes and multiply the impact of your donation.

Agnes weighed 28.5 pounds in April, 2015
Agnes weighed 28.5 pounds in April, 2015
Agnes is healthier and more alert in August 2015
Agnes is healthier and more alert in August 2015
Paul with inputs to grow QPM for the school
Paul with inputs to grow QPM for the school

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Paul (left) and Akwasi (right) in January 2015
Paul (left) and Akwasi (right) in January 2015

In rural Ghana, quite a number of children spend time idle at home or with their parents on their farms rather than in school. The importance of formal education has still not dawned on most parents within Beposo community in the Atwima Mponua District despite the nationwide push for primary education.

Esther and Simon have been married for seven years and have four children; Eric, Paul, Akwasi and Monica aged 5, 4, 3 and 1.5 years respectively. They are subsistence farmers growing maize, cassava, and plantain in Beposo.

Eric is in kindergarten (KG) 2 at Beposo D/A Basic School while Paul is in KG1 at Beposo Islamic Basic School. For unexplained reasons, Akwasi does not attend school and suffers from malnourishment, loneliness and lack of necessary parental care.

Akwasi wanted to be in school just like his elder brothers, Eric and Paul, but unfortunately, he was left alone in the house and sometimes wandered through the Beposo community while his parents worked on their farms. There were times his elder brother, Paul, would sacrifice going to school to keep him company. Akwasi would occasionally sneak in and join his brother Paul in the KG1 classroom despite the displeasure of the teachers since he was not enrolled. Yet each time he went to school, he was sure of a nutritious cup of QPM porridge.

In February 2015, SHI intervened and Akwasi was enrolled at Beposo Islamic Basic School. He is happy going to school to learn and making friends. His teachers tell SHI he never misses school and one of the things he enjoys is the QPM porridge.

Thanks to four months of eating a nutritious daily meal of QPM porridge at the school feeding program, Akwasi has shown significant improvement in his health and confidence.                

Esther and Simon have openly expressed their appreciations to SHI, especially, the staff in charge of the quality protein maize feeding program for renewing their thoughts and restoring their confidence in their son Akwasi (“Yaw” for short). They have awakened to the fact that Yaw is not different from the other children and with the needed parental care and guidance he will grow to become a responsible adult to take care of them in their old age. Akwasi has since received a school uniform and a backpack and the family is happier than before.

Akwasi ("Yaw") in February 2015
Akwasi ("Yaw") in February 2015
A healthier Yaw, 4 months on the feeding program
A healthier Yaw, 4 months on the feeding program
An appreciative & healthier family
An appreciative & healthier family

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Children line up to get their meals
Children line up to get their meals

Bedaabour is a farming community in rural Ghana with about 1,000 people. They are mostly farmers growing cocoa, rice and vegetables. It has no electricity but is blessed with one borehole as a water source. Like many rural communities, pupils rarely stay in school beyond Junior High, partly attributed to economic hardship, low enrollment and poor attendance. Parents are usually unable to pay school fees regularly, to provide breakfast regularly, or to purchase the school supplies to sustain their children’s interest in learning.

In January 2014, Bedaabour Islamic Basic School became a beneficiary of the Self-Help International (SHI) School Feeding Program, which provides breakfast prepared from Quality Protein Maize for school children. Both the parents and teachers have since supported the program relentlessly. In March 2014, the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) cultivated one acre of maize (corn) to ensure the school had a regular supply of maize for the breakfast porridge. The PTA has resolved to grow maize yearly.

In addition to maize, the school plans to have an acre of rice to feed the increasing number of pupils in 2015.

Initially, the school had no proper kitchen and cooking was done under a wooden shed; flies and dust were major distractions, a situation which affected food quality and pupils’ health. Due to the poor roof, cooking was halted whenever it rained. With Self-Help’s support, the school has constructed a new kitchen. Self-Help also provided health and hygiene education to the volunteer who prepares the daily meals, lessons she has shared with the students, including information regarding hand washing.

The feeding program has directly contributed to increased student enrollment and improved daily school attendance. Enrollment at pre-school and kindergarten grades increased by 13% from 87 students to 99 students, necessitating the construction of an additional classroom.

With improved enrollment and attendance, the need for a latrine became extremely urgent. The PTA has provided the school a temporal latrine. Provision of a latrine coupled with proper hand wash has brought about significant improvement in pupils’ health. Sicknesses related absenteeism has reduced. In the past, pupils would run home to answer nature’s call and would not return for the rest of the day. These cases have stopped now that students can answer the call at school.

In a country where corruption among political leaders is rife, it is gratifying to observe that through the Feeding Program, people of Bedaabour, especially parents and teachers of the Islamic Basic School, have exhibited patriotism, communal and ‘can do’ spirit, something which have eluded many Ghanaians.

Your donations, which brought the school feeding program to Bedaadbour, has helped this community come together in support of its children. Thank you for your generostiy.

Old kitchen
Old kitchen
New Kitchen
New Kitchen
Happy kiddos at the Beddabour Islamic School
Happy kiddos at the Beddabour Islamic School

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Organization Information

Self-Help International

Location: Waverly, IA - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @SelfHelpIntl
Project Leader:
Nora Tobin
Waverly, Iowa United States
$71,750 raised of $80,000 goal
 
1,085 donations
$8,250 to go
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