The November 2020 EPES Update is here!

Download and read the November EPES Update here!

Dear friends of EPES,
I hope this finds you and your families safe and well. We are living in a world quite different from the one we took for granted when I last wrote to you, one that is more difficult in many ways, but one in which some essential truths about our interdependence have become clearer to many more people. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us, although some have been hit much harder than others, both among and within countries. Chile ranks eighth in the world in number of COVID-19 deaths per million population, with almost 15,000 deaths to date (and more than half a million cases). Within Chile, of course, the poor and marginalized bear the brunt of the pandemic.

We are so thankful for all the faithful and generous folks who have continued to support EPES’ work throughout these long months of the pandemic. As you will see in the Update, public health isolation measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus made it necessary for EPES to transition to an online environment to continue its work for health and dignity. I’m sure you’ll be as impressed as I am by the results.

To begin with, EPES had to help the health promoters get connected via their smartphones, which became a lifeline connecting them to their health teams (although few people in these communities have computers, most households have a smartphone). Through their phones, they have been able to participate in a wide array of workshops EPES offered on such practical and important topics as bread baking, how to create a family garden in a small space, how to preserve foods, and more. These workshops—and the family and community gardens that emerged from them—helped address long-term food security issues, while EPES also helped address immediate urgent needs through support for seven soup kitchens and provision of food boxes at the most critical point in the pandemic, particularly to the Haitian immigrant community in El Bosque (Chileans, of course, have a long tradition of organizing soup kitchens, from the days of the Dictatorship, but they were new to the Haitians, who turned to EPES for help in getting started).

EPES produced easily phone-accessible educational materials on a wide range of issues, including information on COVID-19 in both Spanish and Creole (for the Haitian community), immigrants’ health rights (in Creole), and approaches to prevent and address violence against women, etc. The COVID-19 materials are particularly important in light of the Chilean government’s dismal performance in risk communication concerning the pandemic.

EPES also launched a new area of work, reaching hundreds of people through online forums on issues facing the community, such as migrant rights, human rights and the constitutional reform process, and how to address the pandemic together. The forums continue to be available through EPES’ YouTube channel.

Most recently, EPES collaborated with Canada’s Coady International Institute to deliver an online women’s leadership training program, with participation by 24 women from 13 Latin American and Caribbean countries. This is a remarkable example of successfully adapting popular education methods to online reality, and its benefits have potential to extend beyond pandemic conditions.

At the same time that Chileans have been facing the health and economic challenges of the pandemic, there has been an ongoing crisis in human rights because of the government’s violent repression of the social movements emerging since October of 2019. Under inexorable popular pressure, the government was forced to hold a referendum on the need for a new Constitution to replace the one imposed by the Pinochet dictatorship. On October 25, Chileans voted overwhelmingly for a new Constitution, to be drafted by a completely newly elected constituent assembly (i.e., untainted by vested political interests). Many Chileans regard the referendum as the beginning of the true end of the Dictatorship.

In the midst of all the turmoil of 2020, it is good to see how EPES’ leadership takes care of their team throughout the year—offering online self-care sessions, online pastoral support, financial support to help defray the costs of working from home, and sending gift boxes to everyone for their birthdays and for Chile’s national holiday. I’m grateful to EPES for setting an example of collective self-care. For any good work to continue, those who do the work must take care of themselves, and each other.

EPES continues to stand with the Chilean people, providing essential tools, advocating for structural change to eliminate inequities, denouncing human rights violations, and demanding the right to health and dignity for all. This essential work would literally be impossible without your continuing, generous support, so please consider EPES when planning your year-end giving. Our deepest thanks go out to you.

Please take care of yourselves, and of one another. In solidarity and peace,
Christina Mills MD FRCPC

P.S. Your gift was just doubled! An anonymous donor has offered to match all donations up to US$10,000.

When does your $100 equal $138?

Read the May EPES Update here!

Dear friends of EPES and AHA ,

Needless to say that Covid 19 has affected everyone. EPES, as we and its community have come to expect, once again has stepped up during this extraordinary times to go above and beyond in supporting those who need it most. Through your generosity, EPES continues to meet these challenges head on. This May’s EPES Update focuses on what EPES has been able to quickly do to address the new needs of the communities they work with.

Fortunately – yes fortunately – your contribution provides more benefit than ever. Due to the strong dollar and the very weak Chilean peso, we are quickly converting US dollar contributions into Chilean pesos, reaping a benefit of approximately 38%….in other words, for every $1 you donate, it will be equivalent to $1.38.

We are so thankful for your continued support to EPES. If you are able to, we hope you will consider making a contribution now so that we can take advantage the the favorable exchange rate and help EPES to stretch their budget.

Many thanks,

The Action for Health in the Americas Board

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

Special EPES Update Featuring New Immigrant Health Project!

Read the special September 2019 EPES Update here!


We always welcome donations but especially now – you can donate online by clicking “Donate” in the menu above or going directly to 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,


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 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 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
Action for Health in the Americas

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