The Summer 2014 EPES Update is here!

EPES Update June 2014 Cover

Read the June 2014 EPES Update (many of you will be receiving the Update in the mail this week – if you’d like to be on AHA’s Mailing List, please let us know by emailing AHABoard@gmail.com!)

Dear Friend,

As you look forward to summer vacation, it is fall in Chile and EPES’ plate is decidedly brimming over.

EPES’ 5th International Training Course on Popular Health proved that language and culture are not barriers when it comes to the yearning for change. The six women from Kenya and one from Uganda who traveled to Chile in January with the Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW) acquired the tools for applying the EPES model for empowerment in health in their communities.

They also formed bonds of friendship with the Chilean health promoters who traveled the same road years ago. Ever since she participated in the first health education training school in 2010, HFAW director Dr. Grace Mose had dreamed of bringing the EPES methodology to Kenya.  As you will see in the inspiring photos of the first training sessions in Kenya, EPES has truly crossed an ocean and a continent.

On April 12th, a fierce fire devastated low-income neighborhoods of the hilly port city of Valparaíso, reducing 3,000 houses to ashes and leaving 12,000 people homeless. On Cerro Las Cañas—the area hardest hit by the blaze—a community center, run by an EPES Popular Health Training course graduate, is one of few buildings left standing, and has become the hub of emergency response activity.  Within days, EPES staff was on the scene and determined that the situation called for the post-disaster program pioneered in Concepción in response to the earthquake four years ago. EPES pledged to help improve 300 emergency houses (the government is issuing the same leaky wood-frame dwellings it gave people in Concepción) and set in motion the Comfort for Kids psychosocial program to enable children to overcome trauma, while empowering women as leaders with the capacity to advocate for their rights.

A year after Chile became a smoke-free nation (March 1, 2013), the Inter American Heart Foundation  awarded the Chile Libre de Tabaco (Tobacco Free Chile) coalition, spearheaded by EPES, for its exemplary work organizing the lobbying efforts that won passage of the landmark tobacco law. EPES health promoters are keeping track of tobacco law compliance, and at least in Concepción, they were heartened to find 75% compliance. The law represents a major breakthrough for public health of future generations in this country where 40% are smokers.

We hope you enjoy reading details about these and other activities in the enclosed UpdateWe are so grateful for your continuing support which is an investment in real, concrete change in the lives of so many people and communities.

With Peace and Hope,

Christina Mills, MD FRCPC

President, Action for Health in the Americas

 

To give to EPES, donate online or send your tax-deductible contribution to:

Action for Health in the Americas

c/o Prince of Peace Lutheran Church

4 Northcrest Drive

Clifton Park, NY 12065-2744

Make checks payable to “Action for Health in the Americas”

A great way to honor mothers this year!

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 11th! EPES, and its new partner, the Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW), are committed to supporting and empowering the mothers and families in the communities they serve. A donation to AHA this Mother’s Day can honor the mothers, grandmothers and other special women in your life as well as support the mothers of the poorest communities of Chile and Kenya. This year, please consider a donation in honor of someone special – in lieu of or in addition to flowers!

HFAW using the EPES model to empower communities in KenyaYour gift will go even farther if you donate by May 30th, 2014 – a generous EPES supporter, inspired by the work of EPES and HFAW, has committed to matching all Mother’s Day donations up to a total of $10,000! Please spread the word and help us meet this match!

  • You can donate online and specify “Mother’s Day” in the Comments Field.
  • You can donate via check to Action for Health in the Americas and mail to 4 Northcrest Drive, Clifton Park, NY 12065. Note “Mother’s Day” in For line of the check.
  • Online or via check, you may also note the name and email or mailing address of someone you’d like to honor with your donation and AHA will send her a card in her honor.
  • Or, you may print off the card and give directly!

As always, thank you for supporting the great work of EPES in Chile and the spreading of the EPES model across the world!

 

Attending EPES’ Fifth International Training Course

– Guest Post from Action for Health in the Americas (AHA) Board Member Sheila Dauer –

Attending the 5th Escuela Internacional was one of the best experiences of my life! And I owe it to the generosity of Melanie Nelson (fellow AHA Board member), the welcoming warmth of the EPES staff and health promoters and the 7 East African women with whom I attended the course. Melanie made it possible for 6 Kenyans and 1 Ugandan woman to attend the Escuela. I learned so much and am so impressed with the ability of EPES staff and health promoters to communicate how popular education works to women from thousands of miles away and different cultures.

HFAW and EPES participating in a community action to raise awareness about violence against women

See more photos at https://www.facebook.com/fundacion.epes/photos_albums!

Grace Mose is the Founder and Executive Secretary of HFAW (Hope for African Women) and a Professor at Kenyatta University.  She is brilliant and full of joyful energy. She has a team of 6 Kenyan women who are dedicated and truly amazing people.

She and her co-founder, Hellen Njoroge, have been traveling from Nairobi to Abagusii and Maasai villages west and south of that capital city using their own resources and linking with Joyce Amoyi and Nellie Koyo, each of whom lives in a village and is an HFAW volunteer leader.  They are supported by Mary Were, also a professor at Kenyatta University and Lisper Bundi, who just graduated from the School of Social Work at Kenyatta University.

Grace attended the 1st Escuela Internacional in 2010 and was convinced that EPES’ popular education philosophy and methods were a powerful tool for organizing to economically empower women and to raise awareness that their access to health is a human right, as EPES says, and not a privilege. Members of the HFAW team come from the communities in which they work and as a result have more credibility and access than other development teams.

Despite the lack of resources, HFAW have organized income-generating activities for women in both areas – making school bags for children, and beautiful jewelry and tote bags for women. While women work together on their economic projects, HFAW is able to stimulate discussions about lack of health care and specifically the issue of female genital mutilation, which is practiced both in Gusii and Maasai societies. HFAW has succeeded in facilitating the commitment of 27 women not to have their daughters undergo FGM (the World Health Organization has found the most successful abandonment of this practice comes when the community itself makes the decision).

A 7th East African woman at the training was Generous Turinawe from Muko Sub-district in Uganda. Generous is the Executive Director of ACT (Agape Community Transformation). She came to the Escuela through a connection with Melanie Nelson’s family and Melanie also made her trip possible.  ACT currently has 3 programs:  Muko Hope through which almost 100 orphans receive a sponsor and a stable home, the Muko Empowerment program, which brought income generating skills to women for support of their families, and HANDS Muko Agricultural program, which will introduce more productive farming methods through pilot projects in the area.

ACT is supported by 5 Church partners in Midland and other cities in Michigan. But there is so much that needs to be done to work against gender-based violence in the community and for women’s reproductive health care (these communities do not practice FGM). Generous is an important leader in her sub-district. She too wanted to learn the popular education methods for organizing the communities with which she works.

The training involved workshops on participatory community assessments, learn-by-playing techniques, strategic planning and creative evaluation methods. It was amazing and moving see how community health promoters from the El Bosque neighborhood in Santiago were able to teach the Kenyans and Ugandan how to plan a public action – this one aimed at the local street market – to raise awareness about violence against women.

This is one of the main problems the African women aim to end and they were excited to see that women from poor communities like their own know how to pull off such actions. In addition, when we got to the free market, the Africans were amazed to find a market environment that very much resembled those in their own communities.  They gave out fliers, talked to men as well as women and used a megaphone to relay messages of solidarity from Kenya and Uganda to Chile.  They had never thought of having an action in their own markets and were so energized by the experience of carrying it out.  They became determined to organize such actions when they returned home.

Women from the two countries ended the training by producing a detailed action plan to train health promoters and to organize actions in the community.  We all see that popular education can generate awareness in our communities about our problems and can ensure widespread participation in developing solutions. Another important learning for all of us is that popular education is a process of long-term commitment that is needed to ensure that poverty is steadily reduced and that gender equality becomes a permanent part of our societies.

The 5th Escuela was an exciting new project for EPES, which not only organized, hosted and led the 2-week training, but also provided support and technical assistance before, during and after the training.  A great deal of time and resources were devoted to helping organize the team to get to Chile, translating all materials to English, and interpretation during the course. EPES, thanks to Melanie’s contribution, financially supported HFAW to cover expenses to bring the women to Chile. This period is considered Phase I of HFAW’s formation.  Carrying out the Action Plan is Phase II.

EPES continues to mentor the new organization as they carry out the Action Plan they developed during the Escuela. This will include communications via email and skype, possible future visits and other material support.  The women of HFAW face tremendous challenges.

You can help support EPES to continue this tremendous accomplishment and expand their work in the future by donating to AHA now. Thank you for your support!

EPES Recognizes AHA Board Member Melanie Nelson

AHA is excited to share the below press release from EPES highlighting the extraordinary support of AHA Board Member Melanie Nelson and her key role in making the upcoming EPES International Training Course on Popular Education in Health a reality. Thank you Melanie for your support and being a model for the rest of the board and all supporters of EPES!

Fundación EPES
Press Contact: Isabel Díaz Medina
Communications Coordinator
Telephone: (56-2) 25486021
Email:
isabel.diaz@epes.cl
                        For Immediate Release
Press Release
 
Key Contribution from Melanie Nelson Fosters Health Rights
on Two Continents

Santiago, Chile. A circle of solidarity encompassing three continents was completed this month with the significant contribution from Minnesota native Melanie Nelson to enable Latin American and African women to come together for their right to health.

The long-standing collaboration between Melanie Nelson, founder and CEO of the Owatonna-based Learning ZoneXpress, and the Educación Popular en Salud (EPES) Foundation of Chile stretched across the planet to embrace the African continent, when Nelson donated $25,000 to support EPES’ capacity-building initiative with the Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW) of Kenya. The donation will make it possible for six women from HFAW to travel to Chile to participate in EPES fifth International School for Popular Health from January 13 to the 24th.

Since 2010, EPES has organized an annual international training program, sharing preventive health strategies with community health educators from thirteen Latin American countries, as well as the United States and Canada. The upcoming course, entitled “Dignity, Empowerment and Equity: Course on Participatory and Community-Based Strategies for Health,” will be the first held exclusively to support an African organization.

Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW) directed by Dr. Grace Mose, empowers vulnerable women based on the belief that every individual has the ability to change one’s own life and the lives of one’s immediate community. The partnership between HFAW and EPES aims to adapt methodology honed in EPES’ 31 years working with Chilean women to mobilize marginalized African women of the rural Kisii and Maasai communities. After their return from the training in Chile, HFAW will lead a six-month pilot program to train community health promoters in Kisii using the EPES model.

Karen Anderson, EPES founder and director of the Internacional Training Program, praised Melanie Nelson’s vision and called her contribution a decisive element in the organization of the fifth International Training Course on Popular Health, co-funded by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.“Without Melanie’s support, we wouldn’t be able to share the strategies and experience of EPES so widely,” said Anderson.

Learning ZoneXpress, founded by Melanie Nelson in 1997, is a business based in Owatonna, Minnesota, that develops and distributes educational resource products that promote nutrition, child development, financial literacy and life management skills.

Melanie Nelson’s innovative work earned acclaim from Ernst & Young, which in 2007 and in 2012 named her a finalist in its prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year award. In 2008 the American Association of Family and Consumer Services recognized her as its Entrepreneur of the Year  and,  this year,  Learning ZoneXpress made the 2013 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies The United Way of Owatonna has applauded Melanie Nelson’s generosity and the EPES Foundation of Chile has honored her as its “most enthusiastic supporter.”

Melanie is a member of the board of Action for Health in the Americas (AHA), the North American counterpart to EPES, and an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Owatonna, Minnesota.

For more information about the work of EPES see www.epes.cl.  For more information on AHA and to find out how North American friends can support the work of EPES, visit www.actionforhealth.org.

HFAW’s Upcoming Trip to Chile!

HFAW to Chile Map

Even the best laid plans sometimes need to be changed – and luckily, EPES is used to working in a changing environment. Due to security and programmatic issues, the fifth International Training Course on Popular Education in Health will no longer take place in Kenya – instead, the participants from the Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW) are coming to Chile! EPES is excited to host the women and show them EPES’ work firsthand, while still sharing the critical strategies and methods for community health and empowerment that HFAW will be able to bring back home with them. Read more about the course here!

EPES’ Upcoming Trip to Kenya

Crossing Continents Image

Action for Health in the Americas is supporting EPES as they move beyond the Americas! In Collaboration with the Foundation for African Woman, EPES is holding its Fifth International Training Course on Popular Education in Health in Kenya, starting in January 2014.

The course – Dignity, Empowerment and Equity: Participatory and Community-Based Strategies for Health – will bring together those working for health and social justice and help spread the EPES methodology throughout the world. Dr. Grace Mose, founder and director of the Foundation for African Women, has been dreaming of bringing EPES to Kenya since she participated in the International Training Course in Chile in 2010.

See the flyer for more information on the upcoming course and visit http://www.epes.cl/category/escuela-internacional/ for information on past courses.