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Program Thursday at Trinity by Waverly anti-hunger group

Program Thursday at Trinity by Waverly anti-hunger group
Self-Help International of Waverly is currently working with rural communities in Ghana and Nicaragua by promoting programs to improve agriculture, end malnutrition, provide potable water systems, empower women and girls and provide educational and training opportunities for youth. (Submitted photo)
By Bob Steenson, bsteenson@charlescitypress.com

A Waverly organization dedicated to alleviating hunger and developing rural communities overseas will present an informational program in Charles City on Thursday evening.

Megan Sehr, development director of Self-Help International (SHI), will share ways that organization is working to promote sustainable development by helping people help themselves.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at Trinity United Methodist Church. The meeting is open to the public and there is no admission charge. A freewill offering will be taken to support the organization.

SHI is currently working with rural communities in Ghana and Nicaragua by promoting programs to improve agriculture, end malnutrition, provide potable water systems, empower women and girls, and provide educational and training opportunities for youth.

Sehr has served as the director of development at SHI since August, 2018. She has bachelor’s degrees in international studies and journalism studies from the University of Denver with minors in history and Hebrew.

Sehr spent seven months studying and working in Istanbul, Turkey, as part of Denver U’s Global Scholars program, and did a summer internship with the Jerusalem Post in Israel reporting on Syrian refugees being treated in northern Israeli hospitals.

Her non-profit experience includes marketing work with World Denver and the Aspen Institute. Prior to her Self Help assignment, Sehr served as a Peace Corps volunteer working on English education and youth development programs in Mongolia.

She just returned from Ghana assisting with the Self Help programs in that West African country.

According to the SHI website, the organization was started by Vern Schield, an inventor and industrialist who founded the Schield Bantam Co. in Waverly in the 1940s.

Schield was also a world traveler, humanitarian and devout Christian who was concerned about global missions and world hunger.
Raised on a farm during the Depression, Vern observed hard working farmers unable to get ahead due to limited means and inadequate farming practices. He developed a small and sturdy tractor called the Self-Helper.

During his many travels, Schield recognized the need for appropriate farming technology in developing countries. He created the Self-Help Foundation in 1959 (later renamed Self Help International) to help meet this need.

From 1959-1989, the Self-Helper tractor was manufactured in Waverly and shipped to more than 40 countries around the world.

Self-Help eventually stopped building and shipping tractors once similar equipment could be purchased in those countries for less money than what it cost to manufacture and ship.

In 1989, native Iowan and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug asked SHI to turn its attention to Ghana.

In 2014, Merry Fredrick, the former SHI executive director, was awarded the Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Humanitarian Award during the World Food Prize Iowa Hunger Summit.

She was recognized for the work SHI has done to improve lives for countless people around the world, “and in doing so carries on Iowa’s incredible and historic hunger-fighting legacy,” according to Kenneth M. Quinn, president of The World Food Prize.

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