Project #4027

SHI: End Malnutrition for 600 children in Ghana

by Self-Help International
Fatima ready for school
Fatima ready for school

On January 19th, 2016, for the first time, six year old Fatima experienced her first day of school in a small village in the Ashanti region of Ghana called Fankamawe. Like most kindergarteners, Fatima initially did not like the idea of going to school. According to her teacher, Zuwera, Fatima had “become used to staying at home and playing all day.” Fatima’s parents were originally unable to send her or her siblings to school due to their financial situation. But after participating in our agricultural training program, their parents now have enough money to provide Fatima and her siblings a proper education.

Within only a short period of time, Fatima grew to enjoy her classes. Her parents excitedly shared with us, “Fatima loves the care and attention she receives from Zuwera.”  Even Fatima’s teacher, Zuwera has seen a drastic change. She also describes Fatima’s eagerness to learn, telling Self-Help staff, “Fatima feels at home when she is in the classroom, and is among the few children who come to school early.”

For Fatima, going to school also means getting a healthy breakfast each morning through the school feeding program Self-Help offers in partnership with the local primary school. Like the others students in her class, Fatima's weight and height have been measured regularly to track her progress. Shortly after she started attending school and joined the school feeding program, she was severely underweight and just under 3 feet tall. Though discouraged with the numbers, Fatima’s mother never lost hope that her daughter would one day grow to be a happy and healthy girl.

Less than a year later, thanks to the school feeding program, Fatima’s weight and height have improved significantly. Since she started her first day of kindergarten, Fatima has gained 4 1/2 pounds and grown 3 inches. With joy in her smile, her mother told us, “Fatima is such a big fan of the QPM porridge, she even wants to go to school on weekends for it.”  

Every child deserves the chance to have an education free of hunger pains. Thanks to your support, Fatima is no longer hungry for food; she is now hungry to learn.

PS: We're working to bring 50 - 100 more children on board the school feeding program by April! The community of Timeabu, where we've started a new Teen Girls Club, has requested to join - and we need your help to grant their request! Would you make a monthly recurring donation of $10 or more so more children like Fatima have a healthy start to each day?

Fatima with her family
Fatima with her family
Fatima enjoying her tasty breakfast
Fatima enjoying her tasty breakfast
Nadit's classmate eating porridge served at school
Jasmine agreed to share her family's story, but requested not be captured on camera. Out of respect for her wishes, the photos in this story depict Nadit's classmates who are also benefiting from the school feeding program.

Earlier this month on November 3rd, the school feeding program staff, Nancy and Jesse, visited the community of  Bedabour for monitoring and met with Jasmine, a farmer and a mother of four whose children are active in the local school feeding program.

It is unusual for parents in rural communities to visit their children during school hours. Parents usually spend daylight hours hurrying to visit their farms or the market. They leave their children under the care of their teachers, sometimes without breakfast. Jasmine had come to the school that day to meet with her daughter’s teacher to inquire about her academic performance. Her daughter, Nadit, is in KG2 (kindergarten).

According to her teacher, Joana, Nadit is healthy and active in class. Joana spoke well of Nadit, noting that she has been more positive and happy in class. Jasmine was just so happy that the feeding program was available at her daughter’s school. Nadit now comes to school early and excited to learn because of the breakfast served.

Jasmine also mentioned that the benefits of quality protein maize (QPM) in her daughter’s breakfast is a household topic for conversation.  Nadit’s older sister Rahama, a junior high school student in a nearby school, also is familiar with the benefits. She took an interest in her sister’s health.  Rahama told Self-Help’s staff that, "Since Nadit started consuming porridge made from quality protein maize, she has blossomed. Due to the high protein content of the maize her body growth is excellent. Because of the porridge served at her school, Nadit is never absent and hardly falls sick.”  

Nadit's mother Jasmine confirmed that change in Nadit's health saying that now she is strong and healthy, and has not needed to visit the hospital in the past twelve months.

Rahama went on to say that the school feeding program is so encouraging because it not only increases school enrollment and attendance, but also generates household discussions focusing on the growth and development of children. She noted that families now recognize the importance of feeding QPM and other protein-rich food items to the entire family - including children - and is improving the lives of Nadit and hundreds of children in their village.

In rural communities where access to meat and fish is a challenge due to economic challenges, cultivating and consuming proteinous crops such as QPM, soy beans, cowpea and groundnut are key to the health of growing families. With support from people like you, we will continue to educate and support many rural Ghanaian families to grow and consume more protein. This program will continue to promote the growth and development of children, reduce incidents of diseases and malnourishment, and minimize hospital attendance, which reduces medical bills for families. With a healthy family, parents will have adequate time for their businesses and make more profit to take care of their families, thus creating long-term, sustainable and positive change. 

**Help expand the school feeding program and improve nutrition in more communities in rural Ghana by making a donation on #GivingTuesday!  In honor of this global day of giving back, GlobalGiving will match 50% of your donation. That means that your gift of $55 feeds not two but three children a healthy daily breakfast all of next semester!

This match begins at 11PM Central on Nov 28 and runs through Nov 29 while funds last, so set yourself a reminder to donate as early as possible to maximize your impact! 
Learn more at

Community members serving Nadit
Community members serving Nadit's school
Nadit's class lined up & excited for breakfast!
Martin & Nazareth, pupils at Beposo Islamic School
Martin & Nazareth, pupils at Beposo Islamic School

Ghana is blessed with many natural resource but remains underdeveloped partly because the citizens are overly dependent on the central government. It is therefore heart-warming to see a group of people take their destiny into their hands.

Beposo is a rural community with a population of about 400 in the Atwima Mponua District, Ashanti Region, Ghana. Despite being a farming community, one in three children in Beposo is stunted from poor nutrition.  

It has had one basic school, Beposo D/A Basic School, for over two decades. Then on July 14, 2014, the Islamic Community in Beposo decided to establish a school, Islamic Primary School, in the community to bring about diversity and competition to improve the overall quality of education in the community. It was an uphill task.

On a ¼ acre parcel of land, a wooden hut was built in 2014, and Beposo Islamic Primary school was started with just five pupils: 3 boys and 2 girls. It had no toilet facility, no kitchen, no separation between the three classrooms, and the classrooms were dusty and without cement.

In December 2014, Self-Help began supporting the school by teaching farmers in the area how to grow Quality Protein Maize (QPM) and supporting the school to turn the harvested maize into a high-protein breakfast porridge.  This led to rapid increase in overall enrollment and daily attendance.  Enrollment quickly grew to 89 children: 40 boys and 49 girls. The need for a kitchen and a toilet became very pressing. With local raw materials, the PTA constructed a kitchen and a toilet.

Though encouraging to see that more children were getting a quality education, this rapid rise in population worsened the classroom conditions. The dust pollution was unbearable. It had adverse effects on the health of children as well as on teaching and learning. Children looked dirty all the time, respiratory related cases were rising, and teachers complained about poor environmental conditions. 

The parents, teachers, and pupils never gave up. They stayed and worked together. In May 2016, thanks to your donations, we were finally able to respond to their cry for help with a donation of ten bags of cement to add floors.  The fathers in the community hauled the sand and stone to the site, while the mothers fetched water to cement the floors. The children now study in a dust-free environment.

Conditions at Beposo Islamic School are still not the best – they lack enough desks and chairs and have few school supplies – but the can-do spirit exhibited by the community and the pride they take in their school is comendable.

Beposo is also home to a public school. We offered to introduce the school feeding program in the public school at the same time as the Islamic school, but they public school initially declined the offer.  Seeing the success of the breakfast program at Beposo Islamic, the Beposo public school is now ready to join the school feeding program, and we will bring them on board this semester. Now that there is healthy competition between the two schools at Beposo, it is improving the quality of education for all students.  

Through the school feeding program, parents are taking a greater interest in their children’s education, taking pride in what they are able to contribute to their community, and they send their thanks to you - their friends abroad - for helping make these improvements to their communities possible.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug cautioned us long ago, “We cannot build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery.”  We at Self-Help are working to do our part to partner with all people who wish to fill those empty stomachs and build a more peaceful world. We thank you for joining us in this mission. 

Many more schools are requesting to join the school feeding program than we can currently accept.  When you make a gift of $30 or more, you'll ensure that one more child gets a healthy breakfast every day of this semester! Mark your calendar to make a gift today - Wednesday, September 21 - during the GlobalGiving Match Day! Details on the matching funds are available here

A new latrine improves sanitation in Beposo
A new latrine improves sanitation in Beposo
Dusty classrooms make learning difficult
Dusty classrooms make learning difficult
New concrete floors reduce respiratory illness
New concrete floors reduce respiratory illness
Your support has changed Lydia & Nelly
Your support has changed Lydia & Nelly's stories


I was excited to meet Lydia this past February. I had read her story. I was rooting for her. 

She shared that she has expanded her petty trading business to more products than just fabrics in order to increase her income so she can better provide for her daughters - particularly as her older daughter enters her teenage years and junior high and high school fees loom.  Her younger daughter Nelly, now 4 1/2, started school in Beposo last year, and will enter Kindergarten 2 this fall. She takes great pride in seeing her daughters get an education.  

Like other traders, Lydia sets off very early each morning to walk from village to village to sell her products, or to take them to market on market days. She tries to be the first person there so she can get the most customers since there are many other petty traders selling similar products.

Because she sets off so early, Lydia doesn't have time to prepare breakfast for the girls before school. If she made breakfast each morning, and took the time to fetch water, fetch firewood, boil the water, and prepare the porridge, she would miss out on the sales that put dinner on the table at night. The sales she needs to pay school fees.

Thanks to your support, Lydia no longer has to decide between providing breakfast or providing dinner.  She is grateful to Self-Help for supporting the start of a new school feeding program in Beposo. The school is close enough that Nelly can easily walk to it each morning, and thanks to Self-Help, Nelly gets a hot breakfast first thing in the morning, even though Lydia has already left the house. Life as a petty trader isn't easy, but for her children, it's worth it.

Photographer Andy Robinson captured the photo above of Lydia and Nelly together that day, and GlobalGiving selected it as one of the top photos in the GIVE HOPE category of their photo contest this year!  You can help us win the $1,000 grand prize by voting and inviting your friends to do the same!


Don't forget to check your email to confirm your vote!

The organization whose photo has the most votes between 11 AM CDT on July 18 and 11 AM CDT on July 22, 2016 will win.
Read the full terms and conditions here.


Students line up for porridge at Bedabour D/A
Students line up for porridge at Bedabour D/A

Bedaabour is a rural village of about 1,000 people within the Atwima Mponua District in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. There are two schools in the community, both of which benefit from the Quality Protein Maize (QPM) feeding program: Bedabour District Assembly (D/A) Basic School and Bedabour Islamic School. 

Bedabour D/A School is a public school supported by the District Assembly. The government initially provided meals for the pupils under the Ghana National School Feeding Program, but the program was cut due to limited state funding.  So in early 2013, Self-Help introduced the QPM school feeding program to fill the gap, and the community initially embraced it knowing its importance. As the program started, the chief of the community supported it by donating QPM and funds for milling so the maize could be turned into porridge. This went on for some time, but the support ceased when the chief became ill.  

The school feeding program follows a partnership model whereby the community is responsible for donating the maize, milling it, and preparing it into porridge daily, and Self-Help provides the additional inputs such as sugar, cups, spoons, training, and support with construction of a proper kitchen. The community members were used to the chief taking care of everything on behalf of the community, and for a long time, no one else stepped up to donate the maize or milling fees during his illness. Without the community’s support, the program began to falter. There was apathy and lack of commitment.

In 2014, the neighboring Bedaabour Islamic School joined the school feeding program. The school saw significant improvements in both enrollment figures and academic performance, which they attributed to the feeding program. Both parents and teachers were committed. The strong performance by the Islamic school caught the attention of the community, and many parents began transferring their children out of the public school and into the private school, regardless of the family’s religious affiliation. The D/A school was therefore losing many of their pupils in the lower grades in particular to the Bedaabour Islamic School.

The D/A school PTA realized something had to be done before the school collapsed, so in March 2015, the PTA chairman met with the school staff and Self-Help representatives to discuss the challenges the school was facing. They decided to call a full PTA meeting so that members could contribute to raising up the school’s image and getting the QPM feeding program back on track. All teachers and most parents attended the meeting to discuss the issues, and by the end of the meeting, solutions were found.

Realizing that the quality of their children’s education, and therefore their futures, were at stake, all present agreed to support the feeding program in one way or another:

  • The assistant headmaster volunteered to attend the training sessions organized by SHI on how to cultivate maize so that the school would be able to establish a small farm on a plot of land in the school grounds, with the harvest going to support the feeding program.
  • Since there was no maize in March and the program had halted for some time, the parents donated various quantities of maize to re-start the feeding program immediately until they were able to get the first harvest from the new school farm.
  • The wife of the PTA chairman volunteered to cook for the children each school day.
  • The chief and headmaster agreed upon a plot of land to be cultivated, and the parents contributed greatly in cultivating the QPM school farm to ensure regular supply of maize.

All of these actions were necessary to get the feeding program back on track, but the community didn't stop there:

  • In addition to the QPM plot, the junior high school students began cultivating crops including pineapple. Through their commitment, they achieved such high yeilds that the farm was named the Best School Farm in the Atwima Mponua District during the annual National Farmers’ Day celebration in December 2015!
  • All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. Realizing the revived spirit in the children now that they had daily breakfast again, the PTA decided the children should get something to play with, and raised funds to install a Merry-Go-Round, the school’s first ever piece of playground equipment!  All of these improvements have attracted a number of children and enrollment has improved.
  • The new volunteer cook realized that while the QPM porridge was good, adding groundnut would make it even more substantive and nutritious. The headmaster and PTA quickly met on this and they concluded that every child should contribute 50 peswas (13 cents) every week to maintain the constant supply of groundnut and also add millet occasionally to boost nutrient levels in the porridge and to bring variety to the daily breakfast. The PTA Chairman dreams of one day adding all of these nutrients each day to better meet the caloric needs of the students so they are healthier still.

The commitment and spirit of togetherness that the PTA is now demonstrating towards the feeding program has brought about a lot of improvements at the Bedabour D/A School. Enrollment has increased, malnutrition has decreased, and the children are healthier and good looking. Truancy is low since every child wants to come to school and eat QPM prepared breakfast.

Thank you for your support of the school feeding programs in Bedabour community.  This initiative is much more than a breakfast and source of nutrition: it is a catalyst for engaging parents in the nutritional and educational well-being of their children. With your continued financial support, we will be able to help the PTA chairman achieve his dream of regularly adding more nutrients to the porridge. 

QPM porridge with groundnuts for added nutrients
QPM porridge with groundnuts for added nutrients
A new merry-go-round brings joy to the children
A new merry-go-round brings joy to the children
Bedabour D/A students enjoying their porridge
Bedabour D/A students enjoying their porridge



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Organization Information

Self-Help International

Location: Waverly, IA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Nora Tobin
Waverly, Iowa United States
$17,089 raised of $33,000 goal
407 donations
$15,911 to go
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