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Category: El Salvador

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2023BlogCommunity Health WorkersEl SalvadorGraduate StudentsImpactInterns

Investing in Life-Saving Skills: Making a Difference in El Salvador

Healthcare in El Salvador has come a long way and great progress has been made in recent years. However, access to healthcare is unevenly distributed, with those living in low-income regions having less access than those in urban areas. According to WHO, only 44% of Salvadorans have access to basic healthcare services and there are significant disparities in access to care based on socioeconomic status. In addition, indigenous communities may have difficulty accessing care due to language barriers and cultural differences.

First aid training can be a powerful tool to improve access to healthcare in rural El Salvador. By implementing an Advanced First Aid Project through IHELP, we aim to empower the local communities in El Salvador. By equipping local community members with life-saving skills, they can respond quickly and appropriately in case of a medical emergency. They can help provide initial treatment and support, save lives, and prevent complications, thus reducing the burden on already overburdened healthcare facilities. In some cases, early intervention in medical emergencies can prevent complications and reduce the severity of injuries or illnesses. With first-aid training, community members can identify warning signs and provide appropriate care, thus preventing further damage.

We also aim to foster community engagement through the first-aid training project, thus encouraging Salvadorans to take ownership of their health. When a community feels empowered to care for themselves and their neighbors, they are more likely to take an active role in promoting healthy behaviors and practices.

– Nevin Varghese , IHELP Intern

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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 Workers in ActionEl SalvadorInternational HELP ProjectsOrganization Updates

Bridging the Diagnostic Gap in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

We recently implemented our first Advanced Training in Nutrition with a Community Health Worker (CHW) team in El Salvador. A primary part of the training was providing the CHWs with glucometers to aid in diabetes screening and diagnoses in their community. While much of our training focuses on preventing illness and disease, there is a great need to increase diagnostic capabilities in communities around the world.

Dr. Daniel Bausch is the Director of Emerging Threats and Global Health Security at FIND, the global alliance for diagnostics. In an article, written by Nurith Aizenman, Bausch explains that “Most of the people in the world who are sick or dying of something don’t actually know what they have…And it’s not only these – if you will – ‘exotic’ viruses like Ebola and Marburg and Lassa,” for which the diagnostic options are not particularly good.¹ “Most people don’t know if they have tuberculosis or diabetes or hypertension,” he says. “The diagnostic gap, especially at the primary healthcare level in low-income countries, is huge.

Our Advanced Nutrition Training was created to bridge this diagnostic gap. Bausch continues, “If you look at how many people who have diabetes, know that they have diabetes – it’s less than 50% in many low- and middle-income countries.” With such limited access to diagnostic measures, providing our CHWs with glucometers can allow the communities of El Sunza and El Amate, El Salvador to have diabetes diagnostic abilities available directly to them. We are so excited to continue implementing our Advanced Nutrition Training in our other CHW groups to continue providing them with health knowledge and the ability to prevent, diagnose, and treat different diseases.

 

Madeleine Burkholder, MPH, CPH, IHELP Fellow

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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

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2021BlogEl SalvadorGraduate StudentsInternsOrganization Updates

Expanding the Texistepeque, El Salvador Project to Reach More Communities

In June 2017, 16 Community Health Workers (CHWs) were trained in the city of Texistepeque, El Salvador through Oasis de Gracia Iglesia. In 2019, the community partner and IHELP decided to expand the project to reach the rural caserios (villages) surrounding Texistepeque. However, COVID-19 put that plan on hold. It wasn’t until this past spring that IHELP was able to fully start the project again.

As I started my internship in May, this new project became my top priority, as it is one of the largest projects IHELP has taken on. After meeting with a community leader, we learned that 48 potential caserios are looking to participate in the CHW training. To ensure these future CHWs are trained effectively, I have spent the last two months researching Texistepeque, analyzing community assessments, developing project plans, working through program evaluations, and compiling the training curriculum.

Since COVID-19 is still a very present global issue, the CHW training will likely not occur until January 2022. However, these next 5 months will allow us to build our project capacity to meet the needs of this vast project. By putting in the time now, we can ensure all CHWs are effectively trained to end preventable diseases throughout the rural caserios of Texistepeque. I look forward to spending the remaining time of my internship on this project and doing my part to further the mission of IHELP.

– Madeleine Burkholder, MPH Intern, Saint Louis University

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El SalvadorGraduate StudentsInternational HELP ProjectsMake a DifferenceMeet Our Team

The Difference Community Health Workers Can Make

As a physician practicing full-time in the United States, I see firsthand every day the end effects of people’s poor long-term health and lifestyle decisions…What I discovered was oftentimes people simply didn’t know a healthier way to live.