After hearing about the successes experienced at the Fred Strohbehn Training Center, the farmers that Self-Help works with in Ochomogo began asking for a value-added training sessions as well. We invited the seed producers, members of the Norman Borlaug Ochomogo Community Seed Bank, and their wives to participate in a training session for SHI's new gardening program that uses drip irrigation. This was the first time the women had been involved in the activities of the seed bank.
Most of the women said that they would like to come to participate in the training session and be part of the program as well as they can use these new skills when they have free time in their homes. Teófilo, a farmer who lives in the community of Luz del Mañana, located 16 kms from the seed bank, came to the training. Teófilo had to ride two buses to attend the session. The first one was taken at 6:00 a.m., it’s the only one they have in his community which gets to the main road, then he took a second bus which gets to Ochomogo, and then he walked all the way to the Seed Bank with 70 pounds of habaneros peppers in his shoulders.
Teófilo was determined and wanted to learn how to add value to his peppers. He has a plantation of habanero hot peppers on his farm and sometimes he experiences post-harvest loss when he can’t sell them all before they spoil. He was really excited to hear that Self-Help can teach him how to take advantage of all the peppers by making hot pepper sauce and pickling vegetables
For the first training session, Teófilo brought around 18 pounds of habaneros peppers to share with the rest of the group since they didn’t have anything to work with.. For the second training he brought around 70 pounds of habanero peppers.
SHI staff also worked on the design of the labels for the hot pepper sauce, and purchased all the plastic containers to package them. The label shows the name of the peppers being used, the name of the seed bank, the name of each community involved and information about Self-Help International.
From the 70 pounds of hot peppers,Teófilo and the farmers made 160 units of hot sauce in plastic containers
There are still details to work out such as the date of production, the expiration date, the percentage of preservatives we need to apply on the products, the sanitary issues among others. As for right now, priority for SHI staff is making sure that all famrers start implementing hot peppers in their own gardens so they have the products in their homes instead of buying it.
At the next field day training session at the Ochomogo Seed Bank farmers learned how to work with an irrigation system and how to manage it. Together with staff, attendees worked on the drip irrigation system at the seed bank.
In the future, SHI staff plans to help farmers implement the drip irrigation system on their own farms and in gardens. Teófilo is one of the first users of this new technology to ensure he has a year-round supply of habanero chili peppers to sell.
Your donation has helped farmers, like Teófilo, grow their businesses by using new technology and including value-added products. Thank you for your support.
Self-Help International’s (SHI) Fred Strohbehn Training Center in Nicaragua recently offered women’s health sessions to 84 beneficiaries from the women’s micro-credit program. The session was offered over a two-day period and women were invited to attend one of the two sessions held on either Nov. 26 or 27.
The women’s health days were made possible in partnership with the Ministry of Health (MINSA). One gynecologist and one nurse from the nearby Quinta Lidia Health Center led the training sessions with the purpose of helping the women understand the importance of maintaining their health, and learning how to do periodic self-exams to detect potential health issues and cancer.
Session One: Nov. 26
Fourteen beneficiaries from the communities of Las Azucenas, Quinta Lidia, Melchorita and Santa Isabel attended the first day training session. The gynecologist started by explaining the importance of the women’s role in their families and homes, with particular emphasis on the importance of maintaining their own health in order to be in a position to take good care of their loved ones.
After the education portion of the training, the doctor explained the importance of having a routine physical exam including a pap smear and mammogram to screen for cancer or pre-cancerous cells. The doctor also showed the women how to do a routine self-exam in the privacy of their own homes to screen themselves for breast cancer. To ensure that attendees fully understood the information being shared, the doctor asked each woman to stand in front of the group and explain in her own words what she had learned from the doctor and to demonstrate how she would conduct the self-exam in the privacy of her own home.
During this process, Self-Help staff found that some of the women were still unsure, so the doctor explained it one more time to make sure all of them fully understood the training and could implement it at home.
At the end of the session, several beneficiaries requested to have the examination right away and take advantage of the opportunity while the doctor was present. The gynecologist examined each of the 14 women individually. After examination, some of the women were immediately referred to the San Carlos Hospital to have ultrasounds to further evaluate masses found or any other type of diseases, demonstrating the need for this training session.
Session Two: Nov. 27
On the second training day, 13 women attended from the communities of Cruz Verde and El Empalme de Cruz Verde. The gynecologist and the nurse assistant conducted the same training as the first day. After making sure that all the women fully understood the importance of maintaining their health and how to conduct home exams, the doctor offered breast exams to each one of the women present. Similar to the day before, some of the women were also referred to the San Carlos Hospital for further evaluation.
Women from both sessions said they were really thankful and happy to have this type of training organized by Self-Help International and the Ministry of Health. One of the women even said that out of all the training she has received from Self-Help International, this training was the one she liked most because now she understands that the organization really cares about them as human beings. She explained that economic concerns regarding poverty are very important, but the health education means even more to beneficiaries. Attendees said they are thankful for Self-Help International staff for providing this program, training, and skills.
Since the health class was held at the Fred Strohbehn Training Center, the women were able to come to the classes with confidence and comfort because they are familiar with the organization and feel a part of Self-Help. This level of trust is important because the women are hesitant and uncomfortable getting exams with people they aren’t familiar with, so they said they would not have gone to screenings otherwise.
Unfortunately beneficiaries from Laurel Galan were unable to attend because most of the women are teachers and were working during the first two sessions. SHI staff plans to continue this training session in 2015 to account for those who were unable to attend.
A donation of $75 will provide a training session for one beneficiary.
Thank you for your support of the Nicaragua Training Center. Your donation is making it possible for women in rural Nicaragua to grow professionally and personally.
Self-Help International is expanding its training program to include youth beneficiaries.
The Fred Strohbehn Training Center in Nicaragua is now involving children in training programs. The youth are children, nieces, nephews, and/or grandchildren of women beneficiaries in either the micro-credit program or participants in the training center program. Children can start learning useful skills for personal growth and to contribute economically to their families.
Thus far, 86 children have participated in the program, and Self-Help staff aims to involve 100 children by the end of the year.
To integrate children into the training, Self-Help is providing courses geared towards a younger audience. Recent participants were trained in leadership, reproductive health, sexual violence prevention, gardening, self-esteem, creativity in business, and athletic games so children can learn interact with youth from other communities.
In addition, Self-Help International provided courses to both women and children in piñata design and funeral wreaths for All Souls’ Day. Beneficiaries have benefitted from an increase in their variety of services and a growth in business and income.
In the most recent funeral wreath workshop, 32 women and 13 youth from the communities of Quinta Lidia, Santa Isabel, Laurel Galán, and Melchorita participated. The women and their children can earn up to 120 cordobas ($4.55) for each funeral wreath. Making and selling the wreaths in the local community is better for the women, and cheaper for the customers. It also saves in transportation costs.
Your support is helping children to learn new skills and contribute their family income. Thank you for your generosity.
At the start of the year, Self-Help International introduced a pickling and preserves program at the Fred Strohbehn Training Center in Nicaragua. Targeting the women in the microcredit program and
their children, this new initiative aims to educate families on how to start a home garden using drip irrigation technology, as well as how to add value to their produce at market.
The women are able to sell the fresh produce from their garden as an extra source of income, and what they don’t sell, they can preserve for even more income with a greater profit margin. The Nicaragua Training Center offers monthly training sessions on preparing pickled vegetables, jams, and marmalades, where women like Ana and her children learn proper methods to preserve produce.
Ana, a mother who takes pride in her children and home, wanted to provide for her family by gardening and pickling. On April 23, Self-Help International taught Ana and her three children how to plant a variety of seedlings in their family garden: chili peppers, papayas, passion fruit, and dragon fruit. Two weeks later, Ana brought her children to the training center where she and her children learned to make marmalades to preserve their fruits.
“What I’ve learned from the program is how to cultivate a garden, I have ideas of how to do things better in the home…it’s not necessary to go to the hardware store,” she said, gesturing to the watering can she made for herself from an old jerrycan while she was saving up to install a drip irrigation system.
Ana listed off what she had learned from Self-Help: to make marmalades, chili sauce, and to share experiences with the other women in the training sessions, as well as how to manage money, make profit, how to make better investments, “all these things!” she exclaimed with a grin.
Ana said of the micro-credit program, “I give thanks to the donors and all the people who are involved in this program. You help us and all the hardworking women who are involved now, who aren’t shy, who work and struggle: you help us make progress. It’s beautiful.”
This program has already reached 53 women like Ana through demonstration gardening plots at the training center. As many as 29 adolescents have attended training sessions on how to make the value-added products, and many more have helped their mothers with the gardening, pickling and fruit preservation at home. The program is increasingly gaining popularity as training sessions are continuing to be filled by interested women and youth.
Self-Help International aims to expand this program to more families in Nicaragua, introducing composting and other methods to encourage sustainable agricultural practices for generations to come.
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