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Category: Completed Projects

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2023BlogCommunity Health WorkersCompleted ProjectsEl SalvadorGraduate StudentsImpactInternational HELP ProjectsInternsStories

Testimony from El Salvador

When I got the call about the trip I was ecstatic, but when I got the news it would be about a month I was nervous. I have never been out of the country for so long nor did I process that I’d be traveling with a coworker I had never met. But I fully took the plunge and it was the best decision I’ve made. A few weeks later I was packed up and meeting Madeleine in the Houston airport to start our adventure. We started our training in Las Negritas, a small community about 20 minutes away from Texistepeque. The group was all so welcoming and it was sweet to see how close of a community they are. Their closeness and eagerness to learn made the training days so much fun and filled with many shared stories.

After Las Negritas we stopped by to check on a few of our previously trained groups in Chilcuyo and La Y Griega. There we got to check in on their progress in teaching their own new Community Health Workers. It was great to talk to the leaders about their challenges and how they overcame them as well as discuss new topics they want to learn more about. We also got invited to a tree planting and environmental health project put on with the EU in collaboration with a few of our own Community Health Workers. There we were invited to talk a bit about the work International HELP does and how our health workers keep advancing the health of their communities beyond our training. It was lots of fun getting to learn from experts in their fields and they even taught us how they make fertilizer specifically for vegetation in the area.

After our stops in the Texistepeque area, we headed to Metapán where we met Monterey and her family, including her kiddos! We had lots of fun hanging out and exploring before getting started on our Advanced Maternal Health training with the Metapán Red Cross. This group was so much fun as they shared many stories about countless emergencies and how they adapted to them. Day three of training was quite the story as the day of birthing teaching happened to be the day they got a call from a pregnant mother who needed help. Thankfully all was well with mom and baby, but hearing how they grabbed their training manual and tried to follow as best as they could was amazing. Their attention to detail and questions throughout the day was incredible to see. We also got to see the festival of Metapán that happened to start day two of training. So when not teaching we were soaking up all the food, culture, and parades the city had to offer.

After Metapán we headed to Antigua, Guatemala for a few days as we had downtime between training and meetings. There we made many connections with a few nurses, medical students, and organizations that we hope to partner with for future projects. After Antigua, we headed to San Salvador to work on training and meeting with partners. Our training at COFAVAD was great! They loved the training as we had extra special guests to help demonstrate childhood health concerns.

While in San Salvador we had a meeting with the Santa Ana Diputado about how he might be able to help us in our projects in El Salvador and how to expand our reach as well. While there, he also offered us a tour of the government building which was fun to learn more about their government processes and new reforms coming through the changes in government.

Monica Bates, IHELP Intern

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2023Completed ProjectsEl SalvadorGraduate StudentsInternational HELP ProjectsInterns

El Salvador Experience and Personal Testimony

In March 2023, I went to El Salvador ready to fully engage, learn, and deliver the mission and vision of IHELP, which is to “educate, equip, and empower people in need to be health leaders in their community.” I traveled alongside Madeleine who was on her third trip to El Salvador, and we were ready to live and learn all this trip had in store for us. We spent about a week and a half in Texistepeque and from the moment we landed in El Salvador to the moment we left, we were welcomed and well taken care of by community members. During this trip, we had a busy schedule that consisted of interest group meetings, training 23 new CHWs in Ojo de Agua, certifying CHWs in El Sunza on advanced nutrition, and much more. The overall trip was an incredible experience, to say the least.

Chilcuyo

This was a one-day event in which we met with this group of CHWs to pilot a new initiative of CHWs training CHWs. While engaging with these ladies, we learned about their passion to become CHWs and how these new skills would benefit their community. While this is a small group, they are strong and mighty and ready to put their new skills into action. We are very confident that they will accomplish great things in their community.

 

El Sunza: Advanced Nutrition 

As I began to understand the work of IHELP in El Salvador, the CHWs of El Sunza are at the heart of the organization’s work. This group of CHWs has been active for six years and has accomplished many changes within their community, including cleaning up their community river and making a garden that will provide the community with fresh vegetables. 

Helping our friends in this community learn about advanced nutrition and learning to use a glucometer was one of my favorite parts of this training. We had the pleasure to spend time with this group throughout the week which allowed me to get to know all of them better and make wonderful memories.

 

Ojo de Agua

This was such an amazing group to train. The energy and passion were felt during each session! We loved hearing reasons behind the purpose each community member had for attending the training and each one of them had the desire to help their community as much as possible. Our favorite day was First Aid. Community members learned about the importance of CPR and saving lives. We shared many laughs and made great memories with our new community of friends!

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador and work alongside Madeleine and implement the CHW training program. Not only did I get hands-on experience, but I also saw firsthand the impact health education has on the lives of the communities IHELP serves. Thank you IHELP and Madeleine for all that you do and for helping me grow as a public health professional.

 

Adriana Araica, IHELP Intern

 

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2023BlogCommunity Health WorkersCompleted ProjectsEl SalvadorGraduate StudentsInterns

The Role of Health Knowledge in Community Empowerment

Implementing Community Health Worker Trainings in Texistepeque, El Salvador

June in El Salvador

In June 2022 as part of my MPH internship, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks with IHELP team members in Texistepeque, El Salvador to implement our Community Health Worker (CHW) trainings in two caserios (small villages) within the municipality of Texistepeque: Bendición de Dios and La Y Griega. IHELP began the Texistepeque caserios partnership to empower local people to become health leaders in their communities. IHELP’s commitment to equipping local health leaders is particularly relevant as it is a rural area with limited access and increased barriers to healthcare. Because of our established relationships with local people in Texistepeque, in addition to a community needs assessment, IHELP worked with community members to identify key health issues affecting their communities most. We taught several topics including taking care of a sick person, taking vital signs, nutrition, diabetes, renal failure, general first aid, respiratory illnesses, and much more.

Community Impact

As an IHELP intern and team member, my role consisted of directly teaching certain health topics, translating, assisting in monitoring and evaluation work, and more. My favorite part of the experience was getting to know community members, and embracing hospitality being welcomed into their lives and realities in rural El Salvador. This experience connected me to IHELP’s approach and mission, that is, to come alongside local community members providing knowledge and tools to improve overall health in their communities.

While engaging in dialogue with CHWs, I was touched hearing what motivated them to participate in our CHW training. One CHW shared with us that “it is never too late to learn or to try something new in life.” I quickly noticed that several women came to be trained as CHWs. Many shared that they wanted to become CHWs to meaningfully serve their communities beyond traditional gender norms in their culture. There was much beauty in accompanying community members genuinely interested in learning about health topics that otherwise would not have access to health education. In El Salvador, I witnessed the fruit of IHELP’s empowerment education model: the commitment of CHWs to share the health knowledge they have learned and taking ownership of their community’s health. This will have a sustainable impact on health promotion for years to come. 

Mutuality in Global Health

Being an IHELP intern, both within the United States and El Salvador, I could not help but reflect on the role of relationship-building and community organizing in Global Health. Partnering with international communities is an immense privilege and opportunity to engage in reciprocal relationships and mutual learning (mutuality). Mutuality proves a powerful path forward in global health to ensure voices are heard of the community members we aim to educate, equip, and empower. If we engage in such relationships at the grassroots level, a bottom-up approach (instead of top-down programming often seen in the field) takes into account the lived experience of each community member. Even as a capacity-building organization offering health training to CHWs, we as trainers and as an organization have much to learn from the CHWs we train. In El Salvador I gained an increased appreciation for this mutuality as I learned so much from CHWs; we all have something to offer and learn from one another, regarding health knowledge and beyond. I conclude with a quote by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, who wrote in his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “Nobody educates anybody else, nobody educates themselves, people educate among themselves mediated by the world.”

 

Ashley Richard, IHELP Intern

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2022BlogCommunity Health WorkersCompleted ProjectsEl SalvadorEmpowerImpactInternational HELP ProjectsMake a DifferenceOrganization UpdatesRecapUpdatesZimbabwe

An Impactful Year – 2022

This year, we have been able to provide three training sessions for Community Health Workers (CHWs) and we have two more on the schedule before 2022 is over! Here is a brief rundown of what we’ve accomplished this year and what’s still to come:

January – Guarnecia and Chilcuyo, El Salvador: Trained 27 CHWs

March – Syria: Trained 10 CHWs virtually

June – Bendicion de Dios and La Y Griega, El Salvador: Trained 23 CHWs

November – Gracias a Dios & El Zamarano, Honduras: Trained 55 CHWs

December – Urban & Rural Gwanda, Zimbabwe: Training an estimated 40 CHWs 

 

If all goes as planned, at the end of 2022 we will have trained in four countries and have roughly 155 new CHW’s. We couldn’t have done it without you. You helped educate, empower and equip. 

 

Thank you for supporting International Help and making 2022 such an impactful year! 

Health Worker Trainings Change Individuals & Communities

All of our Community Health Workers have extremely grateful hearts and we want to share their appreciation with you! At IHELP we believe in transparency and we want you to be able to see how your donations have impacted the lives of others. See Gustavo’s incredible testimony below. 

“First I would like to thank God for allowing me to be part of this Community Health Worker team. On these days, Saturday and Sunday, we have had the opportunity to learn and further our understanding of maternal health. A huge thank you to the people who made this type of event possible because we know you contributed financially and supported this excellent [IHELP] team. This is beneficial to each of us as CHWs as we want to provide help to those who need it most, and in this case, that would be pregnant women from their first month [of pregnancy] until after their baby is born. For us to be able to receive this knowledge is very important because we are willing to help, and why not take advantage of and give thanks to God for this opportunity? Thank you to the people who are able to contribute financially and support this excellent team of Monterey, her husband, and Amber. We are very thankful for receiving so much information that we have here [in our minds]. We had so much fun. This is not the first time we are part of this project and we hope in the future there are even better opportunities and we can continue filling [our minds] with more knowledge to be able to continue helping those who need it the most. Thank you so much and many blessings!”

Help is Needed

Giving Tuesday is a movement that encourages people to unleash generosity. It was created to show people that you do not need to be a millionaire to have an impact. Whatever you are willing to offer will be received by grateful hands and used to change lives. Every year Giving Tuesday is held the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. So as you reflect on all that you are grateful for, think of how grateful you could make someone else. Without your support our trainings would not be possible. 

By joining the other 35 million Giving Tuesday donors you will be giving the real gift that keeps on giving. Not only will you be joining a powerful movement, you will help us reach our 2022 fundraising goals that make Community Health Worker training projects possible! 

This November and December we are traveling to Honduras, Zimbabwe, and are finalizing plans for 2023. We need your help! Our goal this Giving Tuesday is to raise $25,000 to fund our 2023 projects in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guyana. And to help us reach that goal, we had a generous donor offer a $5,000 match! Remember that you can contribute any way you feel fitting. Whether that’s money donations, volunteering, medical or office supplies, airline miles, or simply shopping on Amazon Smile. So please join us for GT 2022 and unleash generosity! 

Unleash your generosity today and click here to see multiple ways you can give a monetary donation https://linktr.ee/ihelpdonate