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)


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.

In awe of EPES…plus the May 2015 Update is here!


May2015UpdateCoverHello friends of EPES and AHA!

Most of you haven’t heard from me before, but I thought I’d give Chris, our Board President, a break from writing a letter this time. As I was proofreading this EPES Update – specifically the article about EPES turning 33 – I got to thinking how absolutely amazing EPES is and felt the need to share those thoughts. While I’ve always known EPES is a year older than me, for some reason I was struck by the fact that I’m 32 and EPES is 33. It could be that now, as responsibilities in my life and career pile up, I can better appreciate what an incredible feat it is for these four women to have founded a grassroots organization in very challenging circumstances, grown it to what it is today, and still be so committed 33 years later. I’m in awe of them and all the others who have become a part of EPES since 1982.

I feel incredibly lucky to have met Karen 9 years ago and been introduced to the work of EPES, which led to me helping with the development of Action for Health in the Americas and later serving on the board. Since those of us on the board are volunteers, other responsibilities sometimes keep us from doing more, but something keeps us connected and committed to EPES even a continent away. I know the same goes for all of you. As AHA board secretary I keep the records for donations and know that many of you donate to EPES year after year (often multiple times a year) and see that your support is critical to EPES’s continued operations in Chile and has allowed us to spread their model beyond Chile.

If you’ve known EPES for a while – as most of you have – you can see how much has been accomplished when you read through this Update. I remember helping to write one of the first grant applications for the work EPES would do with tobacco control in Chile, and now EPES is presenting its accomplishments at a prominent international conference. The International Training Course now has over 110 graduates from 15 countries. And Llareta just celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Truly an inspiration to me, and hopefully, to all of you as well.

Thank you for your continued support!

Meghan Ochal

Secretary, Action for Health in the Americas Board