Project #4027

SHI: End Malnutrition for 600 children in Ghana

by Self-Help International
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!


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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.
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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


Razak with daughter Faustina
Razak with daughter Faustina


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


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
SHI&its farmers monitoring selected farmer's crops
Shelling maize with the new maize sheller
Shelling maize with the new maize sheller
This year
This year's harvest of maize sun drying
Maize stored in silos,awaiting higher market price
Maize stored in silos,awaiting higher market price
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 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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Organization Information

Self-Help International

Location: Waverly, IA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Nora Tobin
Waverly, Iowa United States
$10,166 raised of $33,000 goal
170 donations
$22,834 to go
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