The next step

The programmes of the Hunger Projects are designed to be managed to 100% by the participants. This is also the case for the epicenters. In ideal conditions (financial, climatic, etc.) an epicenter can become self-reliant after 8 years. The committee members and the animators manage themselves, to 100%, the epicenter, its infrastructures, its programmes, as well as the rural bank.

To define the self-reliance level of an epicenter, the Hunger Project has developed an index based on the combination of various criteria. The criteria correspond to completed activities, to achieved results or to the impact of the programmes on the communities in all fields linked to chronic hunger and extreme poverty such as nutrition, alphabetisation, health, gender equality, revenue generating activities and leadership. To become self-reliant, an epicenter must reach 80%.

KwakuMatsekope should become self-reliant this year. I have asked the people in the epicenter room to tell me what they feel about becoming self-reliant. Kwaku has answered that he was not afraid because, when a child is born, after a certain amount of time, it will have to be separated from its mother. Lawrencia also wants that they become self-reliant. For Augustin, the cooperation and the strength that they have developed together will be the key to their success.

However, not everything is ready yet. Kwaku says, for examAugustinple, that they still have problems to connect the health center to electricity. They also need to develop income generating activities to finance the activities of the epicenter such as having a tractor that they can rent. Lawrencia is more concerned about the bank. In Ghana, there has been a scandal with a micro finance bank that has gone bankrupt und ruined its clients. She would like to be sure, that their money will not be taken out from them.

LawrenciaSamuel, the director of the Hunger Project Ghana, explained that the bank of the epicenter belongs to and is managed by the members of the epicenter communities, which minimises the risks. He also explained that the Hunger Project Ghana is developing a solution to connect the banks of all the epicenters to insure their governance. He as well emphasized that becoming self-reliant does not mean that they will have all what they need by then but that they will be able continue their development by themselves.

According to my feeling, their will to go forward don’t leave me any doubts. These last years that have developed and strengthened the necessary bases to implement their vision and end chronic hunger in their community. They are close to their goal, this year they will be able to take the next step.

I will tell you more about self-reliance next time with the epicenter of Atuobikrom that became self-reliant in December 2015. See you soon!

 

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The Hunger Project: Choosing to trust oneself and the strength to continue

A question that I have been asked a few times is the reason why people in our epicenters have chosen The Hunger Project (THP). Indeed, the programmes of THP are mostly implemented by volunteers of the epicenter villages. They sit in the managing committees of the programmes and of the epicenters, they moderate workshops or take part in the construction of the infrastructures. This engagement means a lot of time that can be lacking when it comes to activities that generate revenues. So, why do these people trust THP and what motivates them to continue when times are hard? I asked my hosts at the Mastekope epicenter.

For Moses, trainer for the agricultural programme, the explanations given during the mobilisation phase convinced them to join THP. They understood that THP is an organisation with a future that will be helping them.

For Rose, animator for the Women Empowerment Programme, it is the perseverance of THP that was the key for their trust. Many NGOs came and left again. When THP was there already 4 years, they knew that THP would do what they were saying and not leave them just like this. What motivates her to stay is that people came together to come forward. “A group that has no needs is not a group, to come forward, we need to meet. That is why I participate as much as possible”.

For Esther, microfinance group leader, it is not always easy. There are many things to do, engagements and she needs to find time to take part in the epicenter meetings. Still, she always participates. She knows that the information she will receive will help her to improve her life and the lives of her family. If she does not participate, she will miss opportunities. This is her motivation. Agnes, microfinance group leader and pioneer of the microfinance programme just said “wherever you get food from, you don’t spoil the place!”.

For Diana, member of the epicenter committee, it is all the people that support them, coming from Accra, from other continents, that motivates them. The day I visited the Matsekope epicenter was market day, where they have the opportunity to sell their products. Still, 70 people came to welcome me. For her, it is normal, it is about respect.

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Augustin, secretary of the epicenter committee, mainly sees the positive impact of THP on the community. It is difficult to organise meetings and gather everybody. Still, when he sees all these people participating, it motivates him even more to do it again. The people do not only come and go, they learn a lot and bring it back at home. They exchange ideas. It brings a change that is very important towards a better life. Augustin also learns a lot and it gives him the strength to continue.

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For Lydia, chair of the microfinance programme, the new skills that she has learnt e.g. the production of soap motivates her to stay. The opportunity to exchange with and learn from other epicenters in the country is also a motivation for her. Matsekope is now on the world map. She tells me “I know that THP has a future for us, for me, participating is a necessity”.

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To sum up my impressions, it is the strength that they have developed together, the opportunities that open up to them, the confidence they have in themselves and in the future as well as the pride they have in their accomplishment that make them continue. Later, I will write about the Atuobikrom epicenter that has been self-reliant for a year and that I also visited, and you will see that all of this is there to stay.  Bye for now!

The influence of The Hunger Project in Matsekope

The members of the communities of the Matsekope epicenter tell us in this video about the influence of The Hunger Project (THP) on their lives. This influence reaches from the economic standpoint to social and health issues. If the benefits brought by the microfinance programme, mainly the independence they get, are mentioned most, thanks to health and sensitization programmes, behaviours could be changed and the incidence of health and social issues such as HIV and teenager pregnancy could be reduced.

The next post will be about what motivates the communities of the Matsekope epicenter to be part of THP programmes and activities. In the meantime, enjoy the video!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Matsekope!

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I have a message from the Matsekope Epicenter for you. The Matsekope Epicenter consists of 12 villages (7 055 women and 6 692 men) in the district of Ada West. The project started in 2001. There are 276 animators, they are volunteers that engage themselves along with The Hunger Project (THP) to train and inform the community members and to develop their environment.

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I visited the Matsekope Epicenter on Tuesday, the 6th of December 2016. More than 70 people were waiting for me in the main room of the Epicenter. They honoured me with their presence even though Tuesday is market day and an important day for their revenue generation. As I came into the room, I was very impressed to see so many people. Together with Samuel, the director of THP Ghana, I took a seat in front of them. 4 chiefs and members of chief’s families sat down behind us. Lawrencia, the Epicenter committee chair person, welcomed me with warm words and after presenting myself I asked them various questions. I was captivated. The authenticity and energy with which they answered my questions reassured me. After 4 years talking about THP, I was finally there, in an Epicenter, experiencing it myself. It was not what I thought it would be. It was better, more intense, more real. Not everything is all black or all white. There are successes, there are fears, there are bad days, but there are always the others to support you and bring you forward. They told me about the benefits they get out of THP programmes, about what motivates them when it is difficult to stop an activity to go to a meeting, about what they have learnt and what they would like to share, about their fears for the future.

They welcomed me with such warmth, it felt like home, as if we had known each other for long. Today I watched the video so that I can start sharing it with you, bit by bit. So here is a glimpse of it with a message, just for you!

I, too, wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year 2017!

I will be back soon with an interview of Janet, Micro Finance Officer at THP Ghana.

 If you wish to support THP, please follow this link http://www.hungerprojekt.ch/en/your-donation.

Medase Ghana!

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So now it is time to go back. I know you want to hear the details about the epicenters I have visited and the people I have had the privilege to meet, but you will still have to wait a bit. I have made some videos and need to process them, see, I am not a very good videographer and I don’t want you to get seasick! I will publish all these stories step by step over the next few months.

And before I step into the plane, I would like to tell you how I feel. During my stay in Ghana I met incredible people that are dedicated to the same vision. All these people make me really proud to be part of The Hunger Project (THP) and I go back home even more confident. I take back with me, that what my mother always told me as a kid “if you want, you can” is a reality. That by working together and believing in yourself, you will always find a way to solve problems and grow. That supporting each other and keeping in mind the bigger picture will give you the motivation you need when times are hard. The confidence the people in the epicenters have developped, the respect they feel among themselves and towards their work have shown me that it is only the beginning. The strength they have developped is spreading and making life better for many.

I would like to thank everybody at THP Ghana for all the work they make on the ground, for their dedication and for their forward looking strategies. But also for taking care of me so well and making my first visit to a THP programm country so valuable.

Medase!

Akwaaba to Ghana!

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I am finally in Ghana. The preparation ended up rather hectic but everything went well and I am really happy to be here.

On Monday I met most of The Hunger Project (THP) Ghana team at the office. It was nice to meet the team and feel their enthusiasm and motivation. I was also lucky to profit from their knowledge as they presented me THP Ghana.
So THP Ghana in a few facts and figures. THP Ghana has been set up in 1996 and started with the programmes in 1998. There are now 45 epicenters in Ghana, in 5 regions in the South. Most epicenters are in the Eastern region due to a large scale up in 2006. 3 of these epicenters have already reached self-reliance.

I chose two quotes out of our discussions, talking about the partners in the epicenters, “they are so creative”, “they need encouragement”. For me this is quite a good summary of what THP does. THP encourages people to unleash their creativity, strengthens their confidence and capacity to develop solutions. Who does not need a little bit of encouragement?

And before I leave you for today, I would like to share my discussion with Asante. Asante has been with THP Ghana since 1998. He was there when the first programmes started. I asked him which changes he noticed in these 18 years. His eyes lit up and he told me that when they first arrived, people were sitting there, telling THP that now that it is here, it has to help them. THP said “sorry, we don’t work like that” and started with the Vision, Commitment and Action (VCA) workshops. Now, the communities are confident and initiate and conduct projects on their own. I could see a lot of pride in his eyes. I must admit, I felt proud too. And I could not wait the time, when I would meet with the first partners in the Matsekope epicenter. But I will tell you more about that another time.