The 2019 Impact Report

The 2019 Impact Report is here!

Click to open the report and read about the amazing work we were able to do in 2019, all thanks to your support and donations: Self-Help International 2019 Impact Report



Self-Help International marked many milestones in 2019: 60 years since the organization was founded in Waverly, Iowa, 30 years of working with rural communities in Ghana, and 20 years of working with rural communities in Nicaragua. Nicaragua Country Director Jorge Campos and Ghana Country Director Benjamin Kusi also celebrated two decades of dedicated service and leadership at Self-Help, and marked the occasion by traveling to Iowa in April where they joined in the celebrations, participated in farm tours, helped educate Iowa’s youth and joined many of you in fellowship and conversation.

During one of my first meetings with Jorge many years ago, we were discussing future possibilities and strategy, and I asked him what more Self-Help could or should be doing? He replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, “Well, we’d have to ask the people.” It wasn’t that he didn’t know very well the challenges that so many faced through daily collaborations and interactions, but rather reflected a philosophy that those who are most affected must be actively involved in creating the path forward.

Similarly, I recall posing questions to Benjamin early on in my tenure as executive director: with limited resources and more requests from communities for collaboration than we can say yes to, what guided decisions about which communities Self-Help served? Why might the same program have different outcomes from one community to the next? Each time, his response boiled down to leadership: When you can find the right leaders in the community, magic happens. It’s incredible what people can do with relatively little when given the opportunity.

We must first listen to those most affected, and partner with local leadership to take action. In the pages that follow, you’ll read about the integrated community development programs Self-Help implements in collaboration with these community leaders. The report features some of the impact achieved last year in quantifiable ways, but there is so much more to the story. Behind those numbers are incredible leaders who are mobilizing their neighbors to grow food for local schoolchildren, ensuring their community’s water is safe to drink, and investing in the education of the young people in their communities.

Each of Self-Help’s programs can stand on its own and make an impact. But “magic” happens when the programs intersect and build upon one another within the community, as exemplified in La Venada in Nicaragua and Kukubuso in Ghana. The leaders featured are creating new paths forward for their communities in partnership with Self-Help.

Whether you’re reading this report as one of the community leaders or participants, a board or staff member, technical advisor, or a new or long-time donor, each of us plays a role in achieving this mission of alleviating hunger by helping people help themselves. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

With gratitude,
Nora Tobin
Executive Director