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 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!

Gift the gift of EPES this holiday season!

Read about what EPES has been up to this year – your donations are what keeps this work going!

Dec 2014 Update MapAs another holiday season and the end of 2014 approaches, Action for Health in the Americas (AHA) is again seeking your support for the amazing work of Educación Popular en Salud (EPES). I am sure that as you read through the EPES Update, it will become apparent how critical EPES’ work has been not only in Chile but across the globe.

As you read about their work in fighting for stronger tobacco control policies or supporting community rebuilding in Valparaíso, you also may notice that EPES has been fortunate to have the support of larger organizations – such as the ELCA Global Mission, the ACT Alliance and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. What you may not realize is how indispensable the donations that you make through AHA are to the overall sustainability of all EPES’ programs. While the support of these large funders is crucial, the funds are designated to specific projects. The undesignated general funds are essential to maintaining the core work EPES has done for 32 years to support the dignity and empowerment of women and families in Chile’s poorest communities, by training and working with health promoters. Your support is what keeps this work going.

Since AHA was founded almost a decade ago, we’ve annually supported a significant portion of EPES’ operating budget. For 2014, we have a goal of raising at least $100,000 to support EPES – and while your support throughout the year has brought us close to our goal, we still have $35,000 to go.

I and the rest of the AHA board have faith that we can meet this goal by December 31st! A generous board member has agreed to match up to $10,000 for donations received from now until the end of the year, and in our experience, supporters like you recognize how much your donation makes a difference in keeping EPES going, and consistently and generously give your support. We also hope you’ll consider giving the “gift of EPES” this holiday season – make a donation in a loved one’s name and we will gladly send them a holiday card on your behalf.

As always – thank you, thank you, thank you and gracias, gracias, gracias! On behalf of all of us at AHA and EPES, I wish you a joyful Christmas and a peaceful and happy new year.

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

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Survivors of Valparaiso firestorm march on Congress to demand decent housing and dignity

Read more about what EPES is doing in the recent EPES Update! To help support the work of EPES – including the recovery in Valparaiso – please give a gift through AHA!

Survivors of Valparaiso firestorm march on Congress to demand decent housing and dignity

By Lezak Shallat, Fundación EPES CHILE

Torrential rains turned the steep streets and ravines of Valparaíso into rivers, and makeshift emergency housing into sieves. On June 11, two months after the firestorm that consumed 3,000 homes and damaged 12,000 more in the Chilean city of Valparaiso, its blackened hills were not ringing with the sounds of hammers; instead, the angry chants of protestors banging pots and pans echoed from hill to hill as the scores of people battled the rain to march down to the gates of the National Congress to demand to decent housing.

Marco Olmedo is clothed in a plastic bag to keep off the rain. His house on Cerro El Litre burned to the ground, and everything in it. Fortunately, he wasn’t there. Unemployed, he had left four days earlier for Argentina to look for work. He saw his neighborhood engulfed in flames on TV news and rushed back to salvage what he could.  He’s living in the makeshift, emergency housing known as “media-aguas” — a one-room, wooden shack with no bathroom. His electricity was only restored today.

Lorena Monroy, President of the Cerro El Litre Neighborhood Council, charges the government with negligence. “It’s impossible that we still are lacking a rapid, definitive and dignified solution.”

“No more emergency shacks in Chile,” demands Mauricio Salazar, director of the Las Cañas Community Center where EPES in focusing its recovery efforts. “They don’t work. That’s our reality.” Salazar denounced “disorganization and rumor” from the authorities in charge of the rebuilding efforts.

“We are here to tell them that we are not going to let them forget about us until we have decent, dignified housing,” he promises, backed by cheers from the crowd. A scuffle with police followed as the protestors momentarily blocked the entrance into Congress, located at the foot of the city’s impoverished hillsides.

Hear Marco, Lorena and Mauricio in their own words.

Health educator Mónica Arancibia, facilitator of the participatory assessment process supported by ACT member Fundación Educación Popular en Salud (EPES), accompanied the marchers and attested to their demands. “In structured conversations, residents are prioritizing their individual and collective needs: weatherproofing the shelters, clean-ups of the communal toilets and showers, a place to wash clothes, garbage pick-up,” she enumerates.

Mónica also cites the contribution of “commitment, support and identity” that EPES is providing. “Like them, I’m a also pobladora (resident of a low-income sector launched in a land takeover on the outskirts of the city). I know what it is like to struggle.”

The EPES-facilitated assessment is shedding light on a host of problems that won’t disappear once the rains stop. “The procedures for assigning and building the emergency housing is sorely lacking in controls,” says Maria Eugenia Calvin, EPES Director of Planning and coordinator of the ACT initiative in Valparaiso. “Boards are missing, nails are missing, the shacks come without locks for the door. The families who are fixing up their homes need skilled builders to oversee the dwindling number of volunteers who have stayed on to help the homeless. But instead of hiring local workmen, the government is bringing in military people to carry out the repairs.”

The Summer 2014 EPES Update is here!

EPES Update June 2014 Cover

Read the June 2014 EPES Update (many of you will be receiving the Update in the mail this week – if you’d like to be on AHA’s Mailing List, please let us know by emailing AHABoard@gmail.com!)

Dear Friend,

As you look forward to summer vacation, it is fall in Chile and EPES’ plate is decidedly brimming over.

EPES’ 5th International Training Course on Popular Health proved that language and culture are not barriers when it comes to the yearning for change. The six women from Kenya and one from Uganda who traveled to Chile in January with the Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW) acquired the tools for applying the EPES model for empowerment in health in their communities.

They also formed bonds of friendship with the Chilean health promoters who traveled the same road years ago. Ever since she participated in the first health education training school in 2010, HFAW director Dr. Grace Mose had dreamed of bringing the EPES methodology to Kenya.  As you will see in the inspiring photos of the first training sessions in Kenya, EPES has truly crossed an ocean and a continent.

On April 12th, a fierce fire devastated low-income neighborhoods of the hilly port city of Valparaíso, reducing 3,000 houses to ashes and leaving 12,000 people homeless. On Cerro Las Cañas—the area hardest hit by the blaze—a community center, run by an EPES Popular Health Training course graduate, is one of few buildings left standing, and has become the hub of emergency response activity.  Within days, EPES staff was on the scene and determined that the situation called for the post-disaster program pioneered in Concepción in response to the earthquake four years ago. EPES pledged to help improve 300 emergency houses (the government is issuing the same leaky wood-frame dwellings it gave people in Concepción) and set in motion the Comfort for Kids psychosocial program to enable children to overcome trauma, while empowering women as leaders with the capacity to advocate for their rights.

A year after Chile became a smoke-free nation (March 1, 2013), the Inter American Heart Foundation  awarded the Chile Libre de Tabaco (Tobacco Free Chile) coalition, spearheaded by EPES, for its exemplary work organizing the lobbying efforts that won passage of the landmark tobacco law. EPES health promoters are keeping track of tobacco law compliance, and at least in Concepción, they were heartened to find 75% compliance. The law represents a major breakthrough for public health of future generations in this country where 40% are smokers.

We hope you enjoy reading details about these and other activities in the enclosed UpdateWe are so grateful for your continuing support which is an investment in real, concrete change in the lives of so many people and communities.

With Peace and Hope,

Christina Mills, MD FRCPC

President, Action for Health in the Americas

 

To give to EPES, donate online 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

Make checks payable to “Action for Health in the Americas”