“I am a volunteer promoter by inheritance. First, my mother volunteered with Pro-Familia for 15 years, she resigned because she had to go to the United States. I learned to volunteer since I was little because I saw how my mother did it”, Alicia recalls.
Alicia Hernández Monge, 43, remembers that with her mother leaving the country, the community spent some years without a volunteer health promoter. In those years, women came to her to encourage her to re-establish contact with Pro-Familia so the program would resume in the Santo Domingo village, one and a half hours outside of San Salvador.
In the absence of a local public health facility, Alicia decided to become a volunteer health promoter to support her community.
“When my mother left, I agreed to collaborate just to promote the cervical screening clinic, but Pro-Familia suggested that I be a volunteer, like my mother, and I accepted. Today, it’s been two years. They have trained me at home on sexual and reproductive health issues, counseling, home visits, and the use of brochures, and I also learned to inject, with all that I do a better job in my community, especially with women”, says Alicia.
Alicia is an entrepreneur with a strong spirit of care towards her family and community. Every day she attends her small business that provides the community with basic products.
“I help change people's lives; the women are happy and grateful because they no longer go to Guazapa to buy contraceptive methods. Pro-Familia trains me and I coordinate with other institutions in the community, such as the church, to help people”, she says.
Alicia says that counseling is the most important part of her work. “Counselling is very important, women learn to use (contraceptive) methods and stop thinking that it is a sin, I help them to understand that family planning is a right. (…) I had a case of a client where the husband was the one who decided which method to use and make her changed very often (contraceptive method) because he wanted her to lose weight; one day I explained to him about the benefits of using only one family planning method, the effects of changing very often on her menstruation and that she had the right to decide whether or not to change, and that the weight could be due to other reasons. He understood and thanked me for taking the time to speak to him; from that day on the client keeps one family planning method and the husband respects her decision,” she says.
Alicia dreams of having a larger place for her clients, or have a table to administer the injectable, but despite the limited space, she enjoys her work. "I like it and I am happy to know that I can help, many users come at night to pick up their methods because they work out of the house and I take care of them with great pleasure, when they miss their appointment, I look after them, I speak to them by phone or I send them a WhatsApp message", she ends.
They prefer her for the confidence she brings
Ruth Séfora Manzano has known Alicia for several years before she had children. “I like Alicia because she is a respectful person, she likes to help people, she gives me confidence, and you can trust your personal things to her because she doesn't tell anyone, she looked after me when I got pregnant and she also cares about my daughter, she guides me on how taking care of myself and the baby, she is a kind person, that's why I plan with her, and if I need other medicines I also buy them from her. I also like it because it is close to my house, she gives me the shots, and I don't have to go elsewhere, I am grateful for her help and Pro-Familia´s."