SELF-HELP GROUPS ITS COMPONENTS, EXAMPLES AND IMPORTANCE

SELF-HELP GROUPS: ITS COMPONENTS, EXAMPLES AND IMPORTANCE

Self-help groups are small informal groups of homogeneous people who help each other solve their problems. Self-help groups brings about mutual support for people with common concerns and problems to obtain information, address issues, take control and provide solutions to their shared concerns. Most Self-help groups (SHGs) are voluntary and nonprofit groups which is open to people of similar need, problems and interest.

Who helps to form Self-help groups (SHGs):

    A reasonably educated and well known person in the community can initially help people to form group. Such person is called an Animator or Facilitator. The facilitator enlightens people on the importance of forming groups. He or she assists in organising programs and meetings till the group picks a group leader and further guides the leader and group members.

Which agencies can help the Animator/Facilitator in organising the group? 

     A facilitator cannot handle and organise the group alone as he/she would need fundings, trainings, reading materials, guidance etc. the following agencies can be of help: 

* Government's development ministry
* Banks 
* Non-governmental organisations
* Community/village head and authorities.


  Size of self-help groups (SHGs): 

     The ideal size of a self-help group is 2-25 members. The group doesn't need to be registered.


Membership of Self-help groups (SHGs):

    Members of Self-help groups should preferably have common factors such as: 
* Same economic and social background
* Same gender (either generally male/female)
* Same living conditions.
      This way members would be able to interact freely without the fear of being intimidated or being looked down upon. There'd also be full participation from all members and better performance.


Where can Self-help groups (SHGs) be found?

    Self-help groups (SHGs) can be found in almost every country but mostly in countries that are just developing and pays litter or no attention to the reason why the Self-help group was formed.

Examples of Self-help groups (SHGs):

   As mentioned earlier, self-help groups can serve various purposes depending on the need, situation or conditions. 

GHANA: 

    Four people living with disabilities in Kodobeda, Akwapim South District, Ghana came together to form a Self-help group to improve their financial situation. Meeting with their village elders and chiefs they asked for 3 female goats to start an animal husbandry initiative and they were given. Soon, the goats gave birth and the kids were given to one of the members to rear while the initial female goats were sold and the money was used to buy another goat for another member. This process goes on and on till every member had goats to rear and were able to earn a living to sustain themselves.

CHINA: 

   In the Tibet Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China work with parents of children living with disabilities to discover new ways of responding to their children's needs. These parents identify that prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory behavior directed towards their children as a priority issue because it prevented their children from attending school and it was uncomfortable taking their children into the community. A couple of parents came together to form Self-help groups and started by creating public awareness about disabilities, holding awareness sessions in teahouses. Some parents began to rely on each other and drew comfort from their experiences. They also erected local teahouses and used the profits to assist each other. They also visit each other in times of difficulties. Community members have also offered support by donating wheelchairs and through this children have started attending schools and families are accepted to participate in the community.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC:

   A Self-help group for mother's of children living with disabilities was formed in the slums of Santiago with assistance from international non-governmental organisation. Their common interest was to access services for their children as the government was unresponsive to their children's education and health needs. In the absence of government support, these mothers made a decision to undertake basic rehabilitation and education services themselves. They received trainings from NGO's and soon extended services to include children from the slums of Santiago. The mother's group has continued to grow and has developed support services for adolescents with disabilities and a revolving loan fund. The mother's sought government's expert help for cooperatives in forming and managing their revolving fund. The group continues to identify further areas need and now organises social events, awareness raising opportunities and income generation. The mother's are proud of the success of their children and teenagers and their group. 


VIETNAM:

    Landmine Survivors Networks started working with the Quang Binch Province of Vietnam in 2003. It has helped start 15 self-help groups for landmine Survivors. These groups aim to facilitate the process of self empowerment by overcoming self exclusion, enhance participation in decision making, improving the quality of life. One of it's greatest achievements of the self help groups is the impact they have on raising the awareness of local authorities about the needs of people living with disabilities.

Reference: WHO (World Health Organization) 2010 publication.


ADVANTAGES OF SELF-HELP GROUPS (SHGs)

People find their strength from self-help groups.
* Self-help groups helps people pool their savings together.
* Self-help groups helps people in being financially stable.
* Members can take loans from group's savings.
* Self-help groups helps change the narrative about certain issues.
* Self-help groups helps in combating social evils such as drug addiction, gambling etc.



In conclusion: Self-help groups are positive groups that has great impacts on the society through their activities. Since their existence there has been improvement in standard of living, attitude change towards certain issues in the society and financial stability. Self-help groups in a society should always be encouraged and commended.





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