Action for Health in the Americas (AHA)


Action for Health in the Americas (AHA) is the North American counterpart of Educación Popular En Salud (EPES), based in Chile. EPES has been supporting sustainable community-based public health initiatives among the poor in Chile since 1982.

We believe in the power of people to promote their own healthy communities, given the proper financial, educational and technical support.

AHA was founded in 2006 to ensure that supporters in the U.S. received regular updates on the work of EPES and could make tax-deductible donations that would immediately support the work of EPES.

EPES International Training Course graduates 167th educator!

167 educators from 21 countries have graduated from EPES’ International Training Course


Seventeen people, hailing from Puerto Rico, Colombia, Nicaragua, Uruguay and several regions of Chile, graduated from EPES’ Ninth International Training Course on Popular Education for Health, held in Santiago and Concepción January 7 – 17, 2018.

The latest graduates brought the universe of trained health advocates to a total 167 people, who put in practice in their respective 21 countries community health work from a human rights approach, guided by methodology they learn from EPES’ International Course.

Since the inception in January 2010 of the International Training Course, popularly known as “la Escuela”, people from diverse backgrounds and social contexts have gained understanding of the benefits of popular education methods in promoting dignified health. They return from each annual Escuela equipped to form community health groups, strengthen local work and explore the role churches can play to achieve the right to health.

This year’s Escuela was enriched by the presence and participation of three women from Puerto Rico:  Elda Guadalupe Carrasquillo, environmental health education teacher, from Vieques; Aida Edward, community health promoter and leader of the town of Loíza; and Aurinés Torres-Sánchez, University of Puerto Rico Medical School professor, who participated in the second International Training Course held in 2011. Elda Guadalupe and Aida Edward traveled to Chile thanks to a scholarship made possible by the EPES Foundation.

Elda, Aida and Aurinés met, they say, “thanks to Maria”, the category 5 hurricane that devastated the island September 19 and 20, dramatically altering the lives of thousands. In the face of governmental chaos and disorganization, people came together as first responders of their own communities. In wake of the storm, six months ago, when their paths crossed for the first time, the three helped spawn community-based organizations drawing from the EPES popular education for health model.

The Ninth International Training Course featured a presentation from Elda, Aida, and a Aurinés, entitled: Application of Popular Education in Health in post-hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico: Lessons from a colonial state. Fellow Escuela participants and EPES staff learned about Puerto Rico’s social and political situation, with its awakened conscience in 2017, expressed in demonstrations and protests in response to an economic crisis that deepened after hurricanes Irma and Maria, the latter the most powerful to strike the island since 1929.

The women described how their towns of Vieques and Loíza have reemerged with a more unified community, in part as a result of popular education methodology that enabled them to train health promoters and organize a flurry of integral health and environmental activities.

Karen y Angie con mujeres de PR -graduacion.jpg

In addition to learning about the Puerto Rican experience, in Concepción, Escuela participants learned about EPES’ community work in the Biobío Region and visited the locale of Penco. They also met women leaders of Villa Montahue, built for families who lost everything after the 2010 earthquake and tsunami, and last summer found themselves protecting their homes from yet another catastrophe: forest fires. The women spoke of the experience of having to rebuild their neighborhoods and their lives from scratch as well as the fire prevention activities that now have become routine.

Previously, in Santiago, the International Training Course conducted workshops on social determinants of health, with a special focus on gender, enjoyed hands-on learning through EPES educational board games, and acquired know-how on methodologies for promoting and recovering nutritional health, as well as other issues.

The Rev. Lisandro Orlov, theologian and pastor with the United Evangelical Church of Argentina, imparted the course “Faith Communities and the Promotion of Rights: Health  without Stigma or Discrimination” on his pastoral experience in HIV and AIDS prevention. Pastor Orlov, who is a member of EPES multi-disciplinary team of health educators during the Escuela, promotes a model for working on HIV/AIDS based on a message of freedom, rather than the prevailing medical, ethical-legal models.

The students also carried out three community actions, together with the Llareta Health Group, Circle of Women for Health, and the David Werner group. With these veteran health promoters, they alerted shoppers at the two open air markets of El Bosque to the high sugar content in soft drinks, urging people to consume more water and fruit. In addition, they painted a mural and learned about historic memory of the La Bandera neighborhood’s courageous struggle for social justice.


No Escuela would be complete without its “Cultural Night” and students of this ninth version enjoyed an evening of music, dance, theater and poetry. Participants displayed their artistic abilities, sharing the distinctive cultures of their respective countries.

According to Karen Anderson, ELCA Global Mission Personnel and Director of the EPES International Training Course, under the slogan “Learning by doing to promote and expand the right to health”, EPES will soon unfurl promotional efforts for its Tenth International Training Course to be held in January 2019. A decade after the inaugural Escuela, EPES promises to foster a new generation of future health promoters beyond the borders of Chile, where EPES yearly reaches more than 145.000 women and their families in the country’s poor communities, through innovative strategies and the construction of tools for empowerment and collective action.


A look back at 2017 – concerts and EPES activity

Dear friends of EPES and AHA,

EPES has been busier than ever in the last half of its 35th anniversary year.

In September, we celebrated this special anniversary with a concert in Minneapolis featuring longtime allies, Holly Near and John McCutcheon. More than 300 of EPES’ friends and supporters from ten states and three countries gathered in Circle Pines, Minnesota for an evening of music, laughter, fellowship and reflection. It was a fitting celebration, both of EPES’ work for justice and dignity and of the people who have made it possible over these 35 years. Including you!

In this update you’ll also read about EPES’ activities related to immigrant rights, domestic violence, tobacco control policy, nutrition and justice, fire prevention and health worker training. Such news is a welcome antidote to the cynicism and despair that can overtake us when we’re continually barraged by news of injustice, indifference and catastrophe. I don’t know about you, but I need to hear this good news, that EPES is in it for the long haul.

Wishing you peace and health in 2018, with heartfelt thanks for your continuing solidarity,

Christina Mills MD FRCPC
President, Action for Health in the Americas

Check out the latest EPES Newsletter

Thanks to everyone for a successful EPES Fundraiser – a great time for a great cause

Saturday night Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (in Minnesota) was rocking – well folk rocking – out for EPES. Many thanks especially to Holly Near and John McCutcheon and the stupendous generosity of all of those who attended. It was touching to see the support. We thank you all.

If you weren’t there but you’re interested, the opportunity isn’t closed yet. Please watch the video below – a brief pitch and a fantastic song from the event – to get inspired to donate now!

Sneak preview of Holly Near who will help raise funds for Educación Popular en Chile (EPES) a Community Health Initiative in Chile

We are so excited to have Holly Near join us for our annual fundraiser:

Date/Time: Saturday September 23, 2017, 7:00 pm
Location: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 9185 Lexington Avenue North, Circle Pines, MN
Get Tickets Now!

Holly is well acquainted with our work. In fact she has joined us on trips to see Chile. On her website she talks about the impact Chile had on her…

“With the support of so many of you and EPES, I did a songwriting workshop in Chile to inspire writing songs to stop violence against women. The Chilean women ran with it and this is the amazing outcome.”

Please join us on September 23 to learn more about the impact she (and you) can have on Chile. And in the meantime – check out this sneak preview:

Sneak preview of John McCutcheon who will help raise funds for Educación Popular en Chile (EPES) a Community Health Initiative in Chile

We are so excited to have John McCutcheon join us for our annual fundraiser:

Date/Time: Saturday September 23, 2017, 7:00 pm
Location: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 9185 Lexington Avenue North, Circle Pines, MN
Get Tickets Now!

John has his roots in Wisconsin. He has recorded more than 36 albums and is well known for writing about things that matter. He’s a Folk Music hero with 6 Grammy nominations. Pete Seeger called him, “One of our country’s best songwriters.”

Please join us on September 23 to learn here the stories and songs. And in the meantime – check out this sneak preview:

Holly Near and John McCutcheon Fundraiser – Sep 23

We are so excited for Holly Near and John McCutcheon Fundraiser for Educación Popular En Salud (EPES)

Where: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 9185 Lexington Avenue North, Circle Pines, MN
When: Saturday at 7 PM – 9:30 PM
Get tickets!

On Saturday September 23, 2017 Educación Popular En Salud (EPES) is celebrating their 35th anniversary with a benefit concert featuring musicians Holly Near and John McCutcheon. The concert will take place at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Circle Pines. Tickets are $25 in advance; $30 at the door. Order online

Folk musicians John McCutcheon and Holly Near will be playing a show. Multi-instrumentalist McCutcheon is regarded as a master of the hammered dulcimer; he writes from the heart highlighting social injustice all over the world. From Broadway to protest march, Near’s award-winning work speaks a message of equality and peace. She has spent time in Chile collaborating with EPES.

Near says, “Through dictatorship, fire, earthquake and poverty EPES has survived, always there in solidarity with those who get hit hardest by life’s challenges. I have visited Chile three times at the invitation of EPES. I have always been inspired.”

EPES was created in 1982 to promote health with dignity for the poor through empowerment, mobilization and collective action. It began as a program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile (IELCH) and maintains close ties nationally and internationally with the Lutheran church and is an ELCA Global Mission supported ministry. EPES works with community members to advocate, train and assist with community health in the face of both natural disaster and in support of ongoing wellness especially for women and children.

Since 2010, 150 people from 19 countries have participated in International Course on Popular Education in Health, (fondly referred to as la Escuela). Those students bring their knowledge home teaching others and improving community health where they live. The impact echoes. Earlier this year EPES helped Chile deal with ramparts fires that destroyed 1,151 homes and left 6,162 people with precarious housing.

The benefit will help support their continued efforts. The concert is hosted by EPES and Action for Health in the Americas (AHA), the US counterpart to EPES.