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Self-Help helps others in need

By Staff | Sep 19, 2008

Estherville Rotarians Thursday heard about a message near and dear to their hearts, how to end world hunger, when they hosted visitor Merry Fredrick from Self-Help International.

Fredrick, executive director of the Waverly-based organization founded in 1959, told Rotarians about Self-Help’s three programs to help the people of Ghana and Nicaragua, including agricultural opportunities, micro-credit enterprises and improving nutrition for children in both countries.

“To help people help themselves” is the motto of Self Help, Fredrick said. To underscore the need for such programs, she said 80 percent of the world’s people live in poverty, and 75 percent live on under 80 cents a day.

A most intriguing project of Self-Help is the Quality Protein Maize program. The project was begun in Ghana by Dr. Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize winner, in 1985. Dr. Borlaug asked Self-Help to join his effort.

As a result, half of the maize planted in Ghana is quality protein maize. Since the maize-planting program was so successful in Ghana, it was introduced into Nicaragua. Fredrick said the quality protein maize is designed for people whose primary diet is corn.

The women’s micro-credit program provides small loans of $75 to $150 to women who want to start small businesses. As a testament to the program’s success, every loan has been repaid or is in the process of being repaid, Fredrick said.

The children’s feeding project is designed to alleviate malnutrition and provides food to weaning babies in Ghana and Nicaragua.

Self-Help fed 1,800 children in Ghana with corn porridge made of quality protein maize and barley malt. Based upon that success, the program went to Nicaragua where children from six months to six years are fed.

“The changes among these people are just phenomenal,” Fredrick said of the programs.

Donations by churches, individuals, organizations and grants help pay for the program. Donations can range from $10 for a quality protein maize seed pack for farmers to plant to a feed grain mill for $2,000.

For more information, contact Self-Help International at 805 Bremer Ave., Waverly, IA 50677 or call (319) 352-4040. Or go on-line to selfhelpinternational.org to learn more.