19 Graduate from the 11th International Training Course!

Read the EPES Update on the 11th International Training Program here!

Dear Friends of EPES,

EPES’ 11th International Training Program (the Escuela) was held during the third month of national protests in Chile. Ninety-four percent of Chileans are demanding a change of the 1980 Constitution in order to be able to build a fairer country. The demands of the social movement are the right to education and health, pensions and living wages. EPES supports the Chilean people in their struggle for dignity and justice, and condemns the state terrorism that prevails in the country. The police repression has been denounced by four international human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The National Institute of Human Rights has received 4,780 complaints as of January 15, 2020, for homicides, torture, mutilation, arbitrary detentions, sexual violence, among other human rights violations; and has filed 1,118 legal actions in favor of 1,476 victims.

The EPES team evaluated whether or not to hold the Escuela following months of extreme unrest and police violence. In mid December, we agreed that the situation was calm enough (due to the summer) to carry it out without risks for the participants. We are happy to share this Update of the events of the XI International Escuela. We had an incredible group of 19 committed young people from 8 Latin American countries.
Blessings to all and thank you for your love and support,
Karen Anderson
ELCA Global Mission Personnel in Chile
Director, EPES International Training Program

From Seed to Your Plate – Order Your Game Today!

AHA is excited to share information about EPES’ new educational board game: From Seed to Your Plate!

From Seed to Your Plate is a Spanish language board game developed by EPES for health and educational professionals, community members, high school and college students, social and/or political organizations.

Group playing De la semilla al plato

The game invites players to engage in conversation and analyze the economic, political, social and cultural factors that influence what we eat and how it affects our health and environment.

From Seed to Your Plate facilitates and stimulates critical analysis and consciousness raising necessary to motivate collective actions to bring about changes to food environments. The game is designed to illustrate changes we have witnessed in the global food system in the past 40 years, and explore ideas of how to resist Big Food and Big Agriculture.

  • Good for 2-8 Players
  • Ages 14+
  • No previous knowledge about food or nutrition is required to play
  • De la semilla al plato has been field-tested with community members and health professionals (2019 edition available in Spanish only)

Check out our website to learn more and order a game today!

Special EPES Update Featuring New Immigrant Health Project!

Read the special September 2019 EPES Update here!

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We always welcome donations but especially now – you can donate online by clicking “Donate” in the menu above or going directly to https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/ActionforHealthintheAmeri/donate.html. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Dear friends of EPES,

Action for Health in the Americas’ board of directors met in August and decided to send an additional Update this year (electronically only) for two reasons. First, to introduce our supporters to the new immigrant health project that EPES is starting and second, to once again ask for your generous support. As we outlined in the previous Update, EPES is facing a complex financial time and needs our additional support.

At that meeting we were able to Skype in members of EPES’ leadership team to hear in more detail about the challenges they are facing and how they are working to address them. What we heard left us in complete awe. To help resolve EPES’ financial crisis, staff have voluntarily received a 20% pay cut, effectively subsidizing EPES while they continue to do groundbreaking work in such a wide range of areas—nutrition, prevention of violence against women, tobacco control, training and mentoring community health promoters, their International Training Program, mobilizing for justice and dignity in health, and so much more.

In these times when so many frightening ultraconservative populist movements are on the rise, we need to support organizations like EPES that continue the hard day-to-day work of building a more just world, a world where there is space for everyone and all can enjoy lives of health and dignity. On behalf of EPES and the thousands of people who benefit from EPES’ work, I thank you in advance for any extra support you can provide.

Peace and blessings,

ChrisSig

Christina Mills MD FRCPC

EPES needs our help! Can you help us raise $30,000 by June 30th?

The May 2019 EPES Update is here! We hope you’ll take the time to read about all the great work EPES has been doing lately, but we ask that you first read about the serious situation EPES is currently facing in the letter from the EPES Director and AHA President below. We always welcome donations but especially now – you can donate online at https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/ActionforHealthintheAmeri/donate.html. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Dear Friends,
We are facing a perfect financial storm at EPES. We know that with the growth of
extreme right-wing governments throughout the Americas, including Chile, many
justice-oriented, community-based groups are facing major financial challenges.
We are among them. We have lost almost 40% of our funding because of the
combination of changing government priorities and Chile’s deceptively rosy
economic performance.

Because you are long-time friends and supporters of EPES, we wanted to tell you
what is happening and ask for your help.

In 2017, Chileans elected a right-wing government whose priorities in health no
longer include work like ours. The Community Health Agent initiative that we
developed for the Ministry of Health was defunded and all the people in charge of
this program were fired. EPES lost 30% of its’ funding when this program was cut.
Also in 2017, Chile joined the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development), the exclusive club of the world’s more developed economies (with
little regard for how the wealth is distributed within each country). As a result,
many international organizations can no longer provide funds to Chile. For EPES, this
change resulted in our losing $100,000 in funding from Tobacco Free Kids.

As we celebrate 37 years of work to defend and promote health, dignity and human
rights, we are proud to share some impacts that we never could have imagined
when we started EPES. Please click here to read about those impacts.

We have so many wonderful programs and have remained a beacon of hope for
many. In the spirit of justice and solidarity, we invite you to help us now.

We ask for your financial support through our partner Action for Health in the Americas (AHA). To give to EPES, donate online via www.actionforhealth.org 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 USA

Make checks payable to: Action for Health in the Americas. Our goal is to raise US$30,000 by June 30th.

Thank you in advance for your gift. We are forever grateful for the wide network of friends who have helped keep EPES strong for so many years. Gracias for supporting our work for health, dignity and justice!

Warm regards,

Sonia Covarrubias
Executive Director
EPES Foundation

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

You can read more about EPES’ recent work in the May 2019 EPES Update, available here!

EPES International Training Course graduates 167th educator!

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

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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.

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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.

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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