“I decided to become a volunteer at Pro-Familia when I heard a talk the staff was giving at the Acajutla City Hall, where they explained what they were doing in the communities with the program, and they invited us to be part of the volunteer service. I liked what I could do with the men in the community. It’s been two and a half years”.
Juan Martinez Leons’ role as a promoter of the Community-Based Program of ADS – ProFamilia in El Salvador includes contraceptive care and information, as well as counseling to couples and individuals. He refers clients to public health facilities or Pro-Familia clinics for hormonal contraceptive care.
"I like to work for my community, despite the difficulties, and I help in four more communities for them to have the (contraceptives) methods and medicines," says Juan. “I give talks on the soccer field in front of my house, or I have meetings at my house, my children help me invite men to come and they also learn and admire the work. If I am gone in the future, they will continue with this service”.
“When I talk with the men of my community, people's lives change”
“I like providing family planning counseling because sometimes men don't like women using anything to prevent pregnancy. When I talk with the men of my community, people's lives change and you see the difference: you no longer see the domination over women, they let women plan, and (the woman) does no longer request the method secretly, although there are still some women who hide from their husbands, that's why we have to continue working on counseling, that awakens them,” Juan says.
Home visits and talks with local men cover the importance of their own sexual and reproductive healthcare, including the prevention of STIs and HIV, and especially women and children's health.
“In some talks, some men have come out angry and questioned me. Who am I to tell those things?” Juan’s quick response is ‘someone who has learned and who respects people's rights.’ “Now men come to ask for condoms, and even my wife confidently gives the condoms to them, she also supports me”, he says.
Some men thank Juan for having “awakened their minds” and encouraging them to change, to respect women and to help at home. “I think I help my community a lot. You wake them up. I like what I do, I like to help. Before there was no promoter and they had women submerged. Little by little that is changing, but only by talking to men is it achieved. I want to continue learning about sexual and reproductive health issues, it never ends. I would like to continue training as we used to before the pandemic, and for Pro-Familia to come more often. Until God tells me, I feel that it is my obligation to attend to men or whoever seeks me to help them, that's what I'm for”.
16 March 2021
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