EPES Update Highlights EPES Response to Current Unrest in Chile

Read the Fall 2019 EPES Update here

Dear friends of EPES,

You are probably aware that, for the past several weeks, Chile has been experiencing brutal repression such as has not been seen since the years of Pinochet’s dictatorship.

It began with student protests of a 30-peso (4 cent) transit fare increase, but, as a widespread graffiti declares, it’s not the 30 pesos, it’s the 30 years! The protests and the disproportionately violent response of Chile’s militarized police, ignited unrest that had been simmering from years of Pinochet-imposed policies that persisted into the era of supposed democracy:

  • privatized pension funds that make investors immensely rich while Chileans can’t afford to live on their monthly retirement checks;
  • privatized health care and defunding of the public health sector, leading to unnecessary deaths and suffering;
  • privatized education that led to the highest tuition fees in the world (and, for many, worthless degree-mill credentials);
  • privatized water supply (considered a public good everywhere else in the world);
  • a tax system that transfers money from the poor to the rich;
  • systematic encroachment and repression of Mapuche indigenous communities that stand up for their rights and autonomy.

All these elements are integral to the neoliberal economic model that gives Chile the highest level of income inequality among OECD countries and one of the highest in the world. According to the UN, the richest 1% of Chileans hold 33% of the nation’s wealth.

Rather than respond substantively to the just demands of burgeoning social movements, the Piñera government doubled down with dictatorship-era repression, with a brutality that has stunned observers and human rights organizations around the world. After a fact-finding visit to Chile, this week Amnesty International concluded that police deliberately commit human rights violations and shoot to injure demonstrators to discourage the social movement. The president, who a month ago, said the government was at war—against its own people— refuses to take responsibility. But, to paraphrase Einstein, peace is not the absence of war; it’s the presence of justice.

I’m very much afraid that things are going to get worse before they get better, because the wealthy won’t easily give up their privilege, and the Chilean people, now awakened to the full scope of their oppression, will not go back to submission and misery. As another popular graffiti puts it, We’ve lost everything, even our fear.

EPES and AHA are deeply grateful for your support over the years, so indispensable to sustainability for almost four decades. We count on your continued generosity in your year-end giving. Now, more than ever, EPES desperately needs your help to keep standing with and providing essential tools to the Chilean people, protesting structural inequalities, calling out human rights violations, and demanding the right to health and a dignified life for all.

Read the Fall 2019 EPES Update here.

In solidarity and peace,

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

P.S. Thank you in advance for making a donation to EPES TODAY! To make a tax-deductible contribution to EPES, donate online at www.actionforhealth.org or mail a check made out to “Action for Health in the Americas” to:

Action for Health in the Americas c/o Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
4 Northcrest Drive
Clifton Park, NY 12065-2744 USA

Recap from the 10th International Training School!

We’re so excited to share this beautiful summary and photos demonstrating the incredible impact of the EPES International Training School on Popular Education in Health. Held January 6th-16th in Chile, this year marked the 10th for the “Escuela” and resulted in its 187th graduate. AHA is so proud to be a part of EPES and be able to help them implement programs like this! We hope you feel the same!

Read the summary here!

EPES is experiencing a perfect storm this year – but it’s not too late to help this great work continue!

Dear friends of EPES and AHA,

I see the above photograph from a recent EPES workshop on women’s health and I am reminded of so many things I like about the work of EPES, starting with the way they have consistently built community in the midst of poverty, discrimination and natural disasters, over more than three decades. I am moved by how these circles of education and support have spread across some 21 countries through EPES’ International Training Program and how EPES designed and implemented a Community Health Agent program for all of Chile.

 

To learn more about these and all of EPES’ programs, please take a look at the most recent EPES Updates available on our website. The November 2018 Update clearly demonstrates the impact of your dollars—from local healthy eating workshops to international collaboration with Puerto Rico and the Hope Foundation for African Women. GRACIAS to all of you who have so steadily supported the mission of EPES and helped make this possible!

 

The Action for Health in the Americas (AHA) all-volunteer board recently met via conference call to discuss EPES’ budget and how AHA can continue to help stabilize those finances. EPES’ operating budget is made up of a variety of grants and donations, and AHA has historically contributed (because of YOUR donations) about 15% of that budget.

 

Things have changed quite a bit during the course of 2018. EPES is encountering what we consider to be a “perfect storm” of factors that are negatively impacting its budget and work. Those factors are:
  1. Chile is considered an “High Income Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Country” and, as such, is not eligible for international donations that are tied to that classification, even though so many Chileans—especially the ones EPES works with—live in deep poverty.
  2. Chile is one of the most unequal countries in the world and the benefits of the higher income economy are not fairly distributed (among OECD countries, Chile is THE MOST unequal).
  3. The right-wing government of Sebastian Piñera took office this past March, and has cut many of the primary health care initiatives that EPES was able to receive funding to implement. For example, EPES is a key trainer in the government’s Community Health Agent program, generating more than US$400,000 in 2017—but that is dropping to US$0 in 2019.
  4. A Harvard study found that Chile is a country with one of the lowest levels of philanthropic giving.

The support you provide through AHA is incredibly important at this moment! Virtually all of the donations you make via AHA—minus minor costs like bank transfer or credit card processing fees—go directly to EPES to help fill in gaps in their budget, without the strings that come attached to many grants and institutional donations. This type of support is critical for EPES to be able to stay flexible, continue to keep staff on board, and implement their many high-impact programs.

Thank you AGAIN for your ongoing support of EPES. If you have plans to make any final 2018 contributions to organizations doing good work, please do consider AHA and EPES!

You may DONATE ONLINE HERE or send a check made out to “Action for Health in the Americas” to:

Action for Health in the Americas
c/o Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
4 Northcrest Drive
Clifton Park, NY 12065

AHA is recognized as tax-exempt by the IRS under Section 501(c)(3) and donations are deductible as allowable by the IRS.

Best wishes for the new year!
Chris Mills MD FRCPC
AHA Board President

EPES has been busy in 2018 – read the November Update here!

Dear friends of EPES and AHA,

As you will see in this Update, EPES is tireless in its commitment to health and human  rights—in the Nutrition and Justice Program; in Valparaiso, where communities that are still recovering from devastating fires in 2014 are now facing personal tragedy; in training workers of Chile’s National Disability Service; and in Puerto Rico, where EPES staff shared lessons from their earthquake recovery experience with communities affected by Hurricane María.

This important—more than important, essential—work would not be possible without your continuing support. Heartfelt thanks for your solidarity. I wish you peace and health in 2019.

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

Read the Update here! https://ahaepes.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/epesupdatenov2018.pdf

Support the work of EPES – via a tax deductible online donation through AHA – at https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/ActionforHealthintheAmeri/donate.html!

The May 2018 EPES Update is Here!

**Read the May 2018 EPES Update here**

Please consider donating to support this great work by clicking on Donate!

Dear friends of EPES and AHA,

I don’t know about you, but lately it seems to me that the news is just one disaster after another, whether it be an earthquake, a flood, a tornado, a forest fire or a volcanic eruption. And that’s just the natural disasters, never mind the social ones we humans wreak with our greedy strivings. With the election of billionaire Sebastián Piñera as president, things look particularly bleak in Chile. There is widespread anxiety about what it will mean for health policy nationally, for funding for local efforts that have been so crucial to EPES’ work, and in general for Chilean society, already one of the most unequal on the planet. While Chile’s macroeconomic indicators look favorable, they mask huge income gaps within Chilean society; e.g., the top 1% bring in more than 30% of GDP, the top 10% more than 75%. And these gaps are reflected in health disparities.

The communities where EPES works have a heavy disease burden, compounded by the insecurity brought on by the increasing presence of drug trafficking and violence. When all this starts to overwhelm me, learning about EPES’ latest activities never fails to revive my spirits. When I was in Chile in March, I was honoured with an invitation to dinner during EPES’ annual planning retreat and had a chance to witness some of their discussions. I was literally moved to tears by the team’s dedication and passion, evident in every word and gesture.

This January saw the ninth delivery of the Escuela, EPES’ International Course on Popular Education in Health. There are now 167 graduates from 21 countries! I was particularly moved to learn of the participation of three women from Puerto Rico who are applying the EPES model in their work of recovery and community building in the aftermath of Hurricane María. With hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans still without power six months after the disaster, such work is vital.

Also in January, EPES provided Health Ministry primary care staff with training on participatory community strategies for health, part of an ongoing series of workshops through which EPES helps Chile’s health workforce develop essential competencies for working with communities.

When forest fires engulfed thousands of homes in Valparaiso in 2014, EPES was right there, one of the first organizations to respond to the emergency. EPES continues to demonstrate that it is in it for the long haul. This Update shares details of a fire prevention project in the Las Cañas community of Valparaiso, aimed at reducing vulnerability to fires by building public awareness and community capacity for fire prevention, control and management.

Other articles in this Update describe health group priority setting, EPES’ ongoing work on nutrition and food security, international influence, and the launch of a short video celebrating EPES’ 35 years working for health, dignity and justice in Chile.

The late Tommy Douglas once said, “Courage, my friends. ‘Tis not too late to build a better world.” Let us all take courage from EPES’ example. And thank you so, so much for all you do to support EPES in continuing to build that better world.

In solidarity,

Christina Mills MD FRCPC

President, Action for Health in the Americas

Action for Health in the Americas (AHA)

Featured

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.

In addition to donating via AHA to support the work of EPES, read this flyer to find out other creative ways you can support EPES!

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 https://actionforhealth.org/.

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.