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Barbados

Story

“At BFPA, we don’t turn away anyone”

11 August 2021

In Barbados, the age of consent is 16 but “there is still the issue of the age of access versus the age of consent.” Keriann explained that there’s no legal framework that prevents young people between 16 and 18 from accessing SRH services; there is the cultural “assumption that they must bring parent/guardian to be seen by a medical professional.”

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José Ángel Alvarado ADS Pro-Familia
story

| 30 March 2021

"I changed first"

“One day, when I returned from work, Ms. Glenda and Mr. Martin from ADS Pro-Familia were at my house, I heard what the volunteering was about, regarding the education of the men in the community, how to teach, how to stop machismo, to be less violent, how to give the talks and visit the clients; they also talked about the contraceptive methods, medicines and many things that would change people's lives, the proposal seemed important to me and I accepted since I like to work for my people”, recalls José. Since 2008, male participation in sexual and reproductive healthcare in rural communities has been an integral component of the Community-Based Program (PBC), addressing issues of masculinity, behavior, and access to healthcare. "When I gave the talks on masculinity, they questioned me: 'Why can't you scream at home, if you're the man?' Or 'Who you think you are to say those things?', questions that I also asked myself once", says José. “Thanks to the training I have had and the support of the Pro-Familia staff, I have managed to learn and clarify my doubts. During the process I have had a personal change, I no longer respond if someone seeks me to fight and now, I don’t carry my knife everywhere as I used to, I take care of my own health, I share the responsibilities at home, I take care of my two-year-old son; before volunteering, I thought it was a woman’s job, I didn't do that”, reflects José. Educational activities on sexual and reproductive healthcare remain a challenge. Yet, health promoters can help break down some barriers through counseling for couples and the provision of contractive supplies - especially condoms - and medicines. “I like the communication I have with the Pro-Familia staff and the training reinforcements, they should keep it that way, because it's the way to learn and do things better in the community,” he says. “The change begins with oneself and then transmits it to others. I gather men in talks, make visits to their homes, give guidance on prevention of sexually transmitted infections, family planning and not to be violent”, says José. "Older adult men are more difficult to change." Changing attitudes to contraception  José has seen a change in the attitudes of men in his local community and those small achievements encourage him to keep going. “When men ask me about violence and condom use, I feel encouraged. For example, a co-worker uses a condom and confidently tells me that he does it because he learned from the talks he received, that motivates me to continue guiding towards new masculinities." For male clients who are referred by their local health promoter for a voluntary surgical contraception (VSC) procedure, the care is free of charge thanks to the Community-Based Program’s special fund. José is aware that there is still work to be done; "the issue of vasectomy is difficult with men in the community, the challenges continue." “In the community, young people ‘get to live together at an early age (marital union), maybe I cannot change that, but I can help them to be better people, to respect each other. Just as I changed, so can other men,” says José.  

José Ángel Alvarado ADS Pro-Familia
story

| 30 June 2022

"I changed first"

“One day, when I returned from work, Ms. Glenda and Mr. Martin from ADS Pro-Familia were at my house, I heard what the volunteering was about, regarding the education of the men in the community, how to teach, how to stop machismo, to be less violent, how to give the talks and visit the clients; they also talked about the contraceptive methods, medicines and many things that would change people's lives, the proposal seemed important to me and I accepted since I like to work for my people”, recalls José. Since 2008, male participation in sexual and reproductive healthcare in rural communities has been an integral component of the Community-Based Program (PBC), addressing issues of masculinity, behavior, and access to healthcare. "When I gave the talks on masculinity, they questioned me: 'Why can't you scream at home, if you're the man?' Or 'Who you think you are to say those things?', questions that I also asked myself once", says José. “Thanks to the training I have had and the support of the Pro-Familia staff, I have managed to learn and clarify my doubts. During the process I have had a personal change, I no longer respond if someone seeks me to fight and now, I don’t carry my knife everywhere as I used to, I take care of my own health, I share the responsibilities at home, I take care of my two-year-old son; before volunteering, I thought it was a woman’s job, I didn't do that”, reflects José. Educational activities on sexual and reproductive healthcare remain a challenge. Yet, health promoters can help break down some barriers through counseling for couples and the provision of contractive supplies - especially condoms - and medicines. “I like the communication I have with the Pro-Familia staff and the training reinforcements, they should keep it that way, because it's the way to learn and do things better in the community,” he says. “The change begins with oneself and then transmits it to others. I gather men in talks, make visits to their homes, give guidance on prevention of sexually transmitted infections, family planning and not to be violent”, says José. "Older adult men are more difficult to change." Changing attitudes to contraception  José has seen a change in the attitudes of men in his local community and those small achievements encourage him to keep going. “When men ask me about violence and condom use, I feel encouraged. For example, a co-worker uses a condom and confidently tells me that he does it because he learned from the talks he received, that motivates me to continue guiding towards new masculinities." For male clients who are referred by their local health promoter for a voluntary surgical contraception (VSC) procedure, the care is free of charge thanks to the Community-Based Program’s special fund. José is aware that there is still work to be done; "the issue of vasectomy is difficult with men in the community, the challenges continue." “In the community, young people ‘get to live together at an early age (marital union), maybe I cannot change that, but I can help them to be better people, to respect each other. Just as I changed, so can other men,” says José.  

Marta Alicia Hernández Monge
story

| 24 March 2021

"Being a volunteer is my inheritance"

“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."

Marta Alicia Hernández Monge
story

| 30 June 2022

"Being a volunteer is my inheritance"

“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."

Community Health Worker, Elga Lisbeth Cornejo Granados is committed to training the best volunteer health promoters in El Salvador
story

| 18 March 2021

"Working for sexual and reproductive health of women is the purpose of my life"

“I remember that I joined Pro-Familia on July 1, 2011, I had many fears and questions at that time, because I did not know about sexual and reproductive health issues, and had no experience working with contraceptive methods, it was something completely new for me, but I really wanted to learn,” says Elga, 34. Elga is one of the Community Health Workers (CHW) in the ADS - Profamilia Community-Based Program team. She remembers when she first started her training, she felt that her role was small and unimportant; but over time she learned and gained in confidence, understanding the positive impact she was having in the local communities. “I found the reason to live, I found a purpose: knowing people’s situations, their difficult situations, that is special for me. Feeling they miss me when they spend days without seeing me because I am in different communities, that is something important, it means they value my work,” she comments excitedly. Elga believes that she has gained a lot personally. “I have learned a lot about women's rights; I apply everything about sexual and reproductive health in my personal life, I do not allow abuse by my partner and I teach my son to respect people. I learned to use contraception for my own benefit,” she says. Communication was very difficult for Elga, she considered herself shy and was very quiet. Today she talks with people, in front of large groups of students in schools, expresses her ideas, and provides counseling. “I enjoy what I do, I prepare to visit the volunteer promoters, to train them and resolve any doubts or questions that arise, they are very intelligent, and I intend to have the best volunteers. I enjoy visiting families in the community, having the opportunity to give family planning counseling, work on the prevention of cervical and breast cancer, work with young people, help them to change their lives, to find new paths, free from violence, just as I found my purpose,” she says. She admires the work of Pro-Familia, as no other organization has permanent programs and subsidized healthcare, which is of enormous benefit to the local community. Elga has seen many clients since she started volunteering. She recalls encouraging a woman to come to the cervical screening clinic: “The lady had never had a cervical screening. I gave her counseling and a referral so that she could come to the ADS / Pro-Familia clinic. Her result was cervical dysplasia – level 1, I followed her until she received the treatment; now, every time she sees me, she thanks me for guiding her and inviting her to the clinic,” she says with joy. She also remembers the first time she suggested a vasectomy to a client. “First, I made the reference to the woman client, but because of health reasons she could not be sterilized, and she was very sad because using hormonal methods also affected her health; I decided to give counseling to the client's partner, who agreed to a vasectomy. The intervention was successful, and he is well, grateful to me and to Pro-Familia”, she recalls. The issues of sexual and reproductive health and contraceptive care are still taboo in many communities. Changing attitudes in order to improve the lives of individuals and families remain a vital focus. Counseling is key to recognizing that health and contraceptive care are fundamental rights, and to eliminate myths and beliefs that prohibit the use of contraception. Volunteers like Elga remain integral to this process in order to bring about change for the future. 

Community Health Worker, Elga Lisbeth Cornejo Granados is committed to training the best volunteer health promoters in El Salvador
story

| 30 June 2022

"Working for sexual and reproductive health of women is the purpose of my life"

“I remember that I joined Pro-Familia on July 1, 2011, I had many fears and questions at that time, because I did not know about sexual and reproductive health issues, and had no experience working with contraceptive methods, it was something completely new for me, but I really wanted to learn,” says Elga, 34. Elga is one of the Community Health Workers (CHW) in the ADS - Profamilia Community-Based Program team. She remembers when she first started her training, she felt that her role was small and unimportant; but over time she learned and gained in confidence, understanding the positive impact she was having in the local communities. “I found the reason to live, I found a purpose: knowing people’s situations, their difficult situations, that is special for me. Feeling they miss me when they spend days without seeing me because I am in different communities, that is something important, it means they value my work,” she comments excitedly. Elga believes that she has gained a lot personally. “I have learned a lot about women's rights; I apply everything about sexual and reproductive health in my personal life, I do not allow abuse by my partner and I teach my son to respect people. I learned to use contraception for my own benefit,” she says. Communication was very difficult for Elga, she considered herself shy and was very quiet. Today she talks with people, in front of large groups of students in schools, expresses her ideas, and provides counseling. “I enjoy what I do, I prepare to visit the volunteer promoters, to train them and resolve any doubts or questions that arise, they are very intelligent, and I intend to have the best volunteers. I enjoy visiting families in the community, having the opportunity to give family planning counseling, work on the prevention of cervical and breast cancer, work with young people, help them to change their lives, to find new paths, free from violence, just as I found my purpose,” she says. She admires the work of Pro-Familia, as no other organization has permanent programs and subsidized healthcare, which is of enormous benefit to the local community. Elga has seen many clients since she started volunteering. She recalls encouraging a woman to come to the cervical screening clinic: “The lady had never had a cervical screening. I gave her counseling and a referral so that she could come to the ADS / Pro-Familia clinic. Her result was cervical dysplasia – level 1, I followed her until she received the treatment; now, every time she sees me, she thanks me for guiding her and inviting her to the clinic,” she says with joy. She also remembers the first time she suggested a vasectomy to a client. “First, I made the reference to the woman client, but because of health reasons she could not be sterilized, and she was very sad because using hormonal methods also affected her health; I decided to give counseling to the client's partner, who agreed to a vasectomy. The intervention was successful, and he is well, grateful to me and to Pro-Familia”, she recalls. The issues of sexual and reproductive health and contraceptive care are still taboo in many communities. Changing attitudes in order to improve the lives of individuals and families remain a vital focus. Counseling is key to recognizing that health and contraceptive care are fundamental rights, and to eliminate myths and beliefs that prohibit the use of contraception. Volunteers like Elga remain integral to this process in order to bring about change for the future. 

Juan Martínez León Pro-Familia Health Promoter
story

| 16 March 2021

Talking about contraceptive care on the soccer field

“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”.  

Juan Martínez León Pro-Familia Health Promoter
story

| 30 June 2022

Talking about contraceptive care on the soccer field

“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”.  

Juana Margoth Murcia Health Promoter El Salvador
story

| 07 March 2021

Ensuring health and contraceptive care in local villages

“I started as a Pro-Family Health Promoter (PSP, in Spanish) 30 years ago. I received a visit from Pro-Familia staff on several occasions, I was very interested in what I could do to help in my community as a volunteer. I was trained in sexual and reproductive health issues, and in the technique of injecting (contraceptives)”, says Juana Margoth. Through the community-based Pro-Family Health Promoter program, the Salvadoran Demographic Association (ADS / Pro-Familia) has been providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to local communities since 1974. Today, the program currently has around 900 health promoters across El Salvador. Reaching under-served communities with contraceptive care and information lies at the heart of the program’s mission. In the absence of healthcare from the Ministry of Health in Hacienda El Edén, Sonsonate, Juana provides care to four villages in the surrounding area. “I make visits in the communities to the clients I already have, to see if they are okay with the (contraceptive) method and to receive new clients, sometimes even the same clients tell me that there is someone who needs a visit. I like that they look to me to help them. I give confidence to the clients, to their partners too, I have clients since 2, 5 or 6 years ago. (…) There is a lot of need, so I am here, until God wants it”, she says. Juana receives a quarterly supply of contraceptives that she distributes at low prices to the women in her community. “I like that women know that I am here to help them, also to give advice and understand each people's problem; (to help them) to plan their family, and I like the fact that they want to do it with me,” she says. Providing counseling to clients on contraceptive methods so that they understand the different types and can make an informed choice is a crucial part of her role. “In other places - she says - they only give the contraceptive methods to women and do not explain (it’s use)”. In addition to the community-based program, Pro-Familia supports the network of promoters to help respond to emergencies. When natural disasters occur, Pro-Familia conducts a survey of needs and responds with support for reconstruction and food supplies. “I have a lot to thank Pro-Familia for, I have learned and continue to learn with them, they are always there when I need to know something when I run out of contraceptives and without medications (for the program); I am also grateful because I have my prefabricated house thanks to Pro-Familia who helped me when the earthquake of 2001 happened”, she says. I feel confident with her Yaneth Aguilar knew Juana Margoth and felt confident in choosing the injectable as her preferred contraceptive method. “With my husband, we agreed to put myself in control with her, she is kind, and she pays attention. If she were not here, I would surely have two more children. I feel confident with her. I don't like going to the health unit, because I have to spend the whole day, and sometimes they don't treat me well." Veronica Moran also received contraceptive care and information from Juana. “Margoth has changed our life, mine and my family’s, I have been planning with her for 8 years, she is kind and always has the method I use. When I have doubts, I ask her with confidence, without shame, and I can go to her house at any time, she is always there. I don't like going to the health unit, because I spend a lot (of money), and sometimes they don't have contraceptives; nowadays, with the pandemic, we have her close and she never stopped treating me, it is very helpful in our community." Brenda Martinez has been a client of Juana’s for two years. “She is the person that we know has (contraceptive) methods in the community, where Pap tests to prevent cancer are done, where we buy medicines, where you can always ask. When I was born, she was already a promoter; I couldn't be in another place planning, she is a very good person, kind, and she is always helping us in whatever way.”

Juana Margoth Murcia Health Promoter El Salvador
story

| 30 June 2022

Ensuring health and contraceptive care in local villages

“I started as a Pro-Family Health Promoter (PSP, in Spanish) 30 years ago. I received a visit from Pro-Familia staff on several occasions, I was very interested in what I could do to help in my community as a volunteer. I was trained in sexual and reproductive health issues, and in the technique of injecting (contraceptives)”, says Juana Margoth. Through the community-based Pro-Family Health Promoter program, the Salvadoran Demographic Association (ADS / Pro-Familia) has been providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to local communities since 1974. Today, the program currently has around 900 health promoters across El Salvador. Reaching under-served communities with contraceptive care and information lies at the heart of the program’s mission. In the absence of healthcare from the Ministry of Health in Hacienda El Edén, Sonsonate, Juana provides care to four villages in the surrounding area. “I make visits in the communities to the clients I already have, to see if they are okay with the (contraceptive) method and to receive new clients, sometimes even the same clients tell me that there is someone who needs a visit. I like that they look to me to help them. I give confidence to the clients, to their partners too, I have clients since 2, 5 or 6 years ago. (…) There is a lot of need, so I am here, until God wants it”, she says. Juana receives a quarterly supply of contraceptives that she distributes at low prices to the women in her community. “I like that women know that I am here to help them, also to give advice and understand each people's problem; (to help them) to plan their family, and I like the fact that they want to do it with me,” she says. Providing counseling to clients on contraceptive methods so that they understand the different types and can make an informed choice is a crucial part of her role. “In other places - she says - they only give the contraceptive methods to women and do not explain (it’s use)”. In addition to the community-based program, Pro-Familia supports the network of promoters to help respond to emergencies. When natural disasters occur, Pro-Familia conducts a survey of needs and responds with support for reconstruction and food supplies. “I have a lot to thank Pro-Familia for, I have learned and continue to learn with them, they are always there when I need to know something when I run out of contraceptives and without medications (for the program); I am also grateful because I have my prefabricated house thanks to Pro-Familia who helped me when the earthquake of 2001 happened”, she says. I feel confident with her Yaneth Aguilar knew Juana Margoth and felt confident in choosing the injectable as her preferred contraceptive method. “With my husband, we agreed to put myself in control with her, she is kind, and she pays attention. If she were not here, I would surely have two more children. I feel confident with her. I don't like going to the health unit, because I have to spend the whole day, and sometimes they don't treat me well." Veronica Moran also received contraceptive care and information from Juana. “Margoth has changed our life, mine and my family’s, I have been planning with her for 8 years, she is kind and always has the method I use. When I have doubts, I ask her with confidence, without shame, and I can go to her house at any time, she is always there. I don't like going to the health unit, because I spend a lot (of money), and sometimes they don't have contraceptives; nowadays, with the pandemic, we have her close and she never stopped treating me, it is very helpful in our community." Brenda Martinez has been a client of Juana’s for two years. “She is the person that we know has (contraceptive) methods in the community, where Pap tests to prevent cancer are done, where we buy medicines, where you can always ask. When I was born, she was already a promoter; I couldn't be in another place planning, she is a very good person, kind, and she is always helping us in whatever way.”

Blanca Edith Mendoza Ramos
story

| 04 March 2021

"I can always do something to help others"

When Blanca started as a volunteer, she committed to her new role with enthusiasm, thinking about how the women of La Loma village would benefit from being able to access contraceptive methods close to home. “Many women walk up to an hour and a half from the villages of the Guazapa hill, to receive family planning services or to receive counseling,” Blanca Edith Mendoza Ramos, 61, says proudly. Her house is a cozy and special place for the clients. “I have been a Pro-Familia volunteer for 29 years, when I started, I had already had my five children, I was busy at home, but when the Pro-Familia staff explained to me about working in my community, I trusted It was important to support women. I have learned a lot and I continue to do so, I have received training that helps me to be a better person, to have knowledge and to give good advice; I have received many people from Pro-Familia in these years, and always with great responsibility”, she says. To ensure her clients’ confidentiality, Blanca has created a private room with a sofa where she provides counseling and administers injectable contraceptive methods. By creating a private space, Blanca has built up trust in the community and women prefer to go to her for contraception and advice. “I am proud to help in my community, I visit clients to see if they have any side effects when they do not come to receive their method, or to know if they are well or to recruit new clients who are encouraged to use a family planning method because their families are already very large”, comments Blanqui, as she is known in her community. The public health facility provides free healthcare, however, women from other local communities prefer to see Blanca because she is closer and offers confidential personalized care. “The Health Unit is not close, so women prefer to plan with me, they come with confidence to apply their method. On their first visit, I ask them a few questions about their health, and if everything is okay, they plan with me. I think that family planning is important for the spacing of the children and that it is not only the use of methods but also communication with the couple”, reflects Blanca. The poverty and patriarchy in these communities present many challenges, including domestic violence, multiple partners, and miscarriage that require a sensitive approach to provision of healthcare and information. Volunteers like Blanca are supported to deal with these challenges through training provided by the Community-Based Program staff. Volunteers develop skills to use referral systems, coordinate with local institutions, such as the Ministry of Public Health, other NGOs, such as the Feminist Women's Collective, the Institute for Research, Training, and Development of Women (IMU), which provide support for cases of violence or care in cases of miscarriage. This approach is integral to the provision of healthcare and support in the communities. The team of volunteers helps to reduce violence and femicides in order to improve the quality of life for women and families. “People in the community tell me that they are grateful for the care I give them, and I will continue to change what I can to improve people's lives. I will continue to make home visits, give counseling because it is a need, women need someone that understands them and helps them. Pro-Familia is part of my life, being a volunteer is something special, I have learned a lot, and the most important thing is that I can help others”, says Blanca. Respect and comfort Blanca is often recommended by her clients. María Ofelia, or Felita, as she likes to be called, comments that “a friend from the community recommended that I visit the Blanqui, I already had two children, one 4-years-old and another 11-year-old. I still remember with deep sadness the moment I looked for her, it was my last pregnancy, and I lost my daughter. Blanqui received me with affection, respect, and comfort, she understood what I was going through, she guided me, and I made the decision to plan until now. I’ve been using the two-month injection for 4 years." María Ofelia says that although she can go to the social security check-up, she prefers to go to Blanca because of the confidence she gives her, “she always takes care of me, and the prices are low, I can pay it, because in other places the methods (contraceptives) are more expensive.”

Blanca Edith Mendoza Ramos
story

| 30 June 2022

"I can always do something to help others"

When Blanca started as a volunteer, she committed to her new role with enthusiasm, thinking about how the women of La Loma village would benefit from being able to access contraceptive methods close to home. “Many women walk up to an hour and a half from the villages of the Guazapa hill, to receive family planning services or to receive counseling,” Blanca Edith Mendoza Ramos, 61, says proudly. Her house is a cozy and special place for the clients. “I have been a Pro-Familia volunteer for 29 years, when I started, I had already had my five children, I was busy at home, but when the Pro-Familia staff explained to me about working in my community, I trusted It was important to support women. I have learned a lot and I continue to do so, I have received training that helps me to be a better person, to have knowledge and to give good advice; I have received many people from Pro-Familia in these years, and always with great responsibility”, she says. To ensure her clients’ confidentiality, Blanca has created a private room with a sofa where she provides counseling and administers injectable contraceptive methods. By creating a private space, Blanca has built up trust in the community and women prefer to go to her for contraception and advice. “I am proud to help in my community, I visit clients to see if they have any side effects when they do not come to receive their method, or to know if they are well or to recruit new clients who are encouraged to use a family planning method because their families are already very large”, comments Blanqui, as she is known in her community. The public health facility provides free healthcare, however, women from other local communities prefer to see Blanca because she is closer and offers confidential personalized care. “The Health Unit is not close, so women prefer to plan with me, they come with confidence to apply their method. On their first visit, I ask them a few questions about their health, and if everything is okay, they plan with me. I think that family planning is important for the spacing of the children and that it is not only the use of methods but also communication with the couple”, reflects Blanca. The poverty and patriarchy in these communities present many challenges, including domestic violence, multiple partners, and miscarriage that require a sensitive approach to provision of healthcare and information. Volunteers like Blanca are supported to deal with these challenges through training provided by the Community-Based Program staff. Volunteers develop skills to use referral systems, coordinate with local institutions, such as the Ministry of Public Health, other NGOs, such as the Feminist Women's Collective, the Institute for Research, Training, and Development of Women (IMU), which provide support for cases of violence or care in cases of miscarriage. This approach is integral to the provision of healthcare and support in the communities. The team of volunteers helps to reduce violence and femicides in order to improve the quality of life for women and families. “People in the community tell me that they are grateful for the care I give them, and I will continue to change what I can to improve people's lives. I will continue to make home visits, give counseling because it is a need, women need someone that understands them and helps them. Pro-Familia is part of my life, being a volunteer is something special, I have learned a lot, and the most important thing is that I can help others”, says Blanca. Respect and comfort Blanca is often recommended by her clients. María Ofelia, or Felita, as she likes to be called, comments that “a friend from the community recommended that I visit the Blanqui, I already had two children, one 4-years-old and another 11-year-old. I still remember with deep sadness the moment I looked for her, it was my last pregnancy, and I lost my daughter. Blanqui received me with affection, respect, and comfort, she understood what I was going through, she guided me, and I made the decision to plan until now. I’ve been using the two-month injection for 4 years." María Ofelia says that although she can go to the social security check-up, she prefers to go to Blanca because of the confidence she gives her, “she always takes care of me, and the prices are low, I can pay it, because in other places the methods (contraceptives) are more expensive.”

José Ángel Alvarado ADS Pro-Familia
story

| 30 March 2021

"I changed first"

“One day, when I returned from work, Ms. Glenda and Mr. Martin from ADS Pro-Familia were at my house, I heard what the volunteering was about, regarding the education of the men in the community, how to teach, how to stop machismo, to be less violent, how to give the talks and visit the clients; they also talked about the contraceptive methods, medicines and many things that would change people's lives, the proposal seemed important to me and I accepted since I like to work for my people”, recalls José. Since 2008, male participation in sexual and reproductive healthcare in rural communities has been an integral component of the Community-Based Program (PBC), addressing issues of masculinity, behavior, and access to healthcare. "When I gave the talks on masculinity, they questioned me: 'Why can't you scream at home, if you're the man?' Or 'Who you think you are to say those things?', questions that I also asked myself once", says José. “Thanks to the training I have had and the support of the Pro-Familia staff, I have managed to learn and clarify my doubts. During the process I have had a personal change, I no longer respond if someone seeks me to fight and now, I don’t carry my knife everywhere as I used to, I take care of my own health, I share the responsibilities at home, I take care of my two-year-old son; before volunteering, I thought it was a woman’s job, I didn't do that”, reflects José. Educational activities on sexual and reproductive healthcare remain a challenge. Yet, health promoters can help break down some barriers through counseling for couples and the provision of contractive supplies - especially condoms - and medicines. “I like the communication I have with the Pro-Familia staff and the training reinforcements, they should keep it that way, because it's the way to learn and do things better in the community,” he says. “The change begins with oneself and then transmits it to others. I gather men in talks, make visits to their homes, give guidance on prevention of sexually transmitted infections, family planning and not to be violent”, says José. "Older adult men are more difficult to change." Changing attitudes to contraception  José has seen a change in the attitudes of men in his local community and those small achievements encourage him to keep going. “When men ask me about violence and condom use, I feel encouraged. For example, a co-worker uses a condom and confidently tells me that he does it because he learned from the talks he received, that motivates me to continue guiding towards new masculinities." For male clients who are referred by their local health promoter for a voluntary surgical contraception (VSC) procedure, the care is free of charge thanks to the Community-Based Program’s special fund. José is aware that there is still work to be done; "the issue of vasectomy is difficult with men in the community, the challenges continue." “In the community, young people ‘get to live together at an early age (marital union), maybe I cannot change that, but I can help them to be better people, to respect each other. Just as I changed, so can other men,” says José.  

José Ángel Alvarado ADS Pro-Familia
story

| 30 June 2022

"I changed first"

“One day, when I returned from work, Ms. Glenda and Mr. Martin from ADS Pro-Familia were at my house, I heard what the volunteering was about, regarding the education of the men in the community, how to teach, how to stop machismo, to be less violent, how to give the talks and visit the clients; they also talked about the contraceptive methods, medicines and many things that would change people's lives, the proposal seemed important to me and I accepted since I like to work for my people”, recalls José. Since 2008, male participation in sexual and reproductive healthcare in rural communities has been an integral component of the Community-Based Program (PBC), addressing issues of masculinity, behavior, and access to healthcare. "When I gave the talks on masculinity, they questioned me: 'Why can't you scream at home, if you're the man?' Or 'Who you think you are to say those things?', questions that I also asked myself once", says José. “Thanks to the training I have had and the support of the Pro-Familia staff, I have managed to learn and clarify my doubts. During the process I have had a personal change, I no longer respond if someone seeks me to fight and now, I don’t carry my knife everywhere as I used to, I take care of my own health, I share the responsibilities at home, I take care of my two-year-old son; before volunteering, I thought it was a woman’s job, I didn't do that”, reflects José. Educational activities on sexual and reproductive healthcare remain a challenge. Yet, health promoters can help break down some barriers through counseling for couples and the provision of contractive supplies - especially condoms - and medicines. “I like the communication I have with the Pro-Familia staff and the training reinforcements, they should keep it that way, because it's the way to learn and do things better in the community,” he says. “The change begins with oneself and then transmits it to others. I gather men in talks, make visits to their homes, give guidance on prevention of sexually transmitted infections, family planning and not to be violent”, says José. "Older adult men are more difficult to change." Changing attitudes to contraception  José has seen a change in the attitudes of men in his local community and those small achievements encourage him to keep going. “When men ask me about violence and condom use, I feel encouraged. For example, a co-worker uses a condom and confidently tells me that he does it because he learned from the talks he received, that motivates me to continue guiding towards new masculinities." For male clients who are referred by their local health promoter for a voluntary surgical contraception (VSC) procedure, the care is free of charge thanks to the Community-Based Program’s special fund. José is aware that there is still work to be done; "the issue of vasectomy is difficult with men in the community, the challenges continue." “In the community, young people ‘get to live together at an early age (marital union), maybe I cannot change that, but I can help them to be better people, to respect each other. Just as I changed, so can other men,” says José.  

Marta Alicia Hernández Monge
story

| 24 March 2021

"Being a volunteer is my inheritance"

“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."

Marta Alicia Hernández Monge
story

| 30 June 2022

"Being a volunteer is my inheritance"

“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."

Community Health Worker, Elga Lisbeth Cornejo Granados is committed to training the best volunteer health promoters in El Salvador
story

| 18 March 2021

"Working for sexual and reproductive health of women is the purpose of my life"

“I remember that I joined Pro-Familia on July 1, 2011, I had many fears and questions at that time, because I did not know about sexual and reproductive health issues, and had no experience working with contraceptive methods, it was something completely new for me, but I really wanted to learn,” says Elga, 34. Elga is one of the Community Health Workers (CHW) in the ADS - Profamilia Community-Based Program team. She remembers when she first started her training, she felt that her role was small and unimportant; but over time she learned and gained in confidence, understanding the positive impact she was having in the local communities. “I found the reason to live, I found a purpose: knowing people’s situations, their difficult situations, that is special for me. Feeling they miss me when they spend days without seeing me because I am in different communities, that is something important, it means they value my work,” she comments excitedly. Elga believes that she has gained a lot personally. “I have learned a lot about women's rights; I apply everything about sexual and reproductive health in my personal life, I do not allow abuse by my partner and I teach my son to respect people. I learned to use contraception for my own benefit,” she says. Communication was very difficult for Elga, she considered herself shy and was very quiet. Today she talks with people, in front of large groups of students in schools, expresses her ideas, and provides counseling. “I enjoy what I do, I prepare to visit the volunteer promoters, to train them and resolve any doubts or questions that arise, they are very intelligent, and I intend to have the best volunteers. I enjoy visiting families in the community, having the opportunity to give family planning counseling, work on the prevention of cervical and breast cancer, work with young people, help them to change their lives, to find new paths, free from violence, just as I found my purpose,” she says. She admires the work of Pro-Familia, as no other organization has permanent programs and subsidized healthcare, which is of enormous benefit to the local community. Elga has seen many clients since she started volunteering. She recalls encouraging a woman to come to the cervical screening clinic: “The lady had never had a cervical screening. I gave her counseling and a referral so that she could come to the ADS / Pro-Familia clinic. Her result was cervical dysplasia – level 1, I followed her until she received the treatment; now, every time she sees me, she thanks me for guiding her and inviting her to the clinic,” she says with joy. She also remembers the first time she suggested a vasectomy to a client. “First, I made the reference to the woman client, but because of health reasons she could not be sterilized, and she was very sad because using hormonal methods also affected her health; I decided to give counseling to the client's partner, who agreed to a vasectomy. The intervention was successful, and he is well, grateful to me and to Pro-Familia”, she recalls. The issues of sexual and reproductive health and contraceptive care are still taboo in many communities. Changing attitudes in order to improve the lives of individuals and families remain a vital focus. Counseling is key to recognizing that health and contraceptive care are fundamental rights, and to eliminate myths and beliefs that prohibit the use of contraception. Volunteers like Elga remain integral to this process in order to bring about change for the future. 

Community Health Worker, Elga Lisbeth Cornejo Granados is committed to training the best volunteer health promoters in El Salvador
story

| 30 June 2022

"Working for sexual and reproductive health of women is the purpose of my life"

“I remember that I joined Pro-Familia on July 1, 2011, I had many fears and questions at that time, because I did not know about sexual and reproductive health issues, and had no experience working with contraceptive methods, it was something completely new for me, but I really wanted to learn,” says Elga, 34. Elga is one of the Community Health Workers (CHW) in the ADS - Profamilia Community-Based Program team. She remembers when she first started her training, she felt that her role was small and unimportant; but over time she learned and gained in confidence, understanding the positive impact she was having in the local communities. “I found the reason to live, I found a purpose: knowing people’s situations, their difficult situations, that is special for me. Feeling they miss me when they spend days without seeing me because I am in different communities, that is something important, it means they value my work,” she comments excitedly. Elga believes that she has gained a lot personally. “I have learned a lot about women's rights; I apply everything about sexual and reproductive health in my personal life, I do not allow abuse by my partner and I teach my son to respect people. I learned to use contraception for my own benefit,” she says. Communication was very difficult for Elga, she considered herself shy and was very quiet. Today she talks with people, in front of large groups of students in schools, expresses her ideas, and provides counseling. “I enjoy what I do, I prepare to visit the volunteer promoters, to train them and resolve any doubts or questions that arise, they are very intelligent, and I intend to have the best volunteers. I enjoy visiting families in the community, having the opportunity to give family planning counseling, work on the prevention of cervical and breast cancer, work with young people, help them to change their lives, to find new paths, free from violence, just as I found my purpose,” she says. She admires the work of Pro-Familia, as no other organization has permanent programs and subsidized healthcare, which is of enormous benefit to the local community. Elga has seen many clients since she started volunteering. She recalls encouraging a woman to come to the cervical screening clinic: “The lady had never had a cervical screening. I gave her counseling and a referral so that she could come to the ADS / Pro-Familia clinic. Her result was cervical dysplasia – level 1, I followed her until she received the treatment; now, every time she sees me, she thanks me for guiding her and inviting her to the clinic,” she says with joy. She also remembers the first time she suggested a vasectomy to a client. “First, I made the reference to the woman client, but because of health reasons she could not be sterilized, and she was very sad because using hormonal methods also affected her health; I decided to give counseling to the client's partner, who agreed to a vasectomy. The intervention was successful, and he is well, grateful to me and to Pro-Familia”, she recalls. The issues of sexual and reproductive health and contraceptive care are still taboo in many communities. Changing attitudes in order to improve the lives of individuals and families remain a vital focus. Counseling is key to recognizing that health and contraceptive care are fundamental rights, and to eliminate myths and beliefs that prohibit the use of contraception. Volunteers like Elga remain integral to this process in order to bring about change for the future. 

Juan Martínez León Pro-Familia Health Promoter
story

| 16 March 2021

Talking about contraceptive care on the soccer field

“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”.  

Juan Martínez León Pro-Familia Health Promoter
story

| 30 June 2022

Talking about contraceptive care on the soccer field

“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”.  

Juana Margoth Murcia Health Promoter El Salvador
story

| 07 March 2021

Ensuring health and contraceptive care in local villages

“I started as a Pro-Family Health Promoter (PSP, in Spanish) 30 years ago. I received a visit from Pro-Familia staff on several occasions, I was very interested in what I could do to help in my community as a volunteer. I was trained in sexual and reproductive health issues, and in the technique of injecting (contraceptives)”, says Juana Margoth. Through the community-based Pro-Family Health Promoter program, the Salvadoran Demographic Association (ADS / Pro-Familia) has been providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to local communities since 1974. Today, the program currently has around 900 health promoters across El Salvador. Reaching under-served communities with contraceptive care and information lies at the heart of the program’s mission. In the absence of healthcare from the Ministry of Health in Hacienda El Edén, Sonsonate, Juana provides care to four villages in the surrounding area. “I make visits in the communities to the clients I already have, to see if they are okay with the (contraceptive) method and to receive new clients, sometimes even the same clients tell me that there is someone who needs a visit. I like that they look to me to help them. I give confidence to the clients, to their partners too, I have clients since 2, 5 or 6 years ago. (…) There is a lot of need, so I am here, until God wants it”, she says. Juana receives a quarterly supply of contraceptives that she distributes at low prices to the women in her community. “I like that women know that I am here to help them, also to give advice and understand each people's problem; (to help them) to plan their family, and I like the fact that they want to do it with me,” she says. Providing counseling to clients on contraceptive methods so that they understand the different types and can make an informed choice is a crucial part of her role. “In other places - she says - they only give the contraceptive methods to women and do not explain (it’s use)”. In addition to the community-based program, Pro-Familia supports the network of promoters to help respond to emergencies. When natural disasters occur, Pro-Familia conducts a survey of needs and responds with support for reconstruction and food supplies. “I have a lot to thank Pro-Familia for, I have learned and continue to learn with them, they are always there when I need to know something when I run out of contraceptives and without medications (for the program); I am also grateful because I have my prefabricated house thanks to Pro-Familia who helped me when the earthquake of 2001 happened”, she says. I feel confident with her Yaneth Aguilar knew Juana Margoth and felt confident in choosing the injectable as her preferred contraceptive method. “With my husband, we agreed to put myself in control with her, she is kind, and she pays attention. If she were not here, I would surely have two more children. I feel confident with her. I don't like going to the health unit, because I have to spend the whole day, and sometimes they don't treat me well." Veronica Moran also received contraceptive care and information from Juana. “Margoth has changed our life, mine and my family’s, I have been planning with her for 8 years, she is kind and always has the method I use. When I have doubts, I ask her with confidence, without shame, and I can go to her house at any time, she is always there. I don't like going to the health unit, because I spend a lot (of money), and sometimes they don't have contraceptives; nowadays, with the pandemic, we have her close and she never stopped treating me, it is very helpful in our community." Brenda Martinez has been a client of Juana’s for two years. “She is the person that we know has (contraceptive) methods in the community, where Pap tests to prevent cancer are done, where we buy medicines, where you can always ask. When I was born, she was already a promoter; I couldn't be in another place planning, she is a very good person, kind, and she is always helping us in whatever way.”

Juana Margoth Murcia Health Promoter El Salvador
story

| 30 June 2022

Ensuring health and contraceptive care in local villages

“I started as a Pro-Family Health Promoter (PSP, in Spanish) 30 years ago. I received a visit from Pro-Familia staff on several occasions, I was very interested in what I could do to help in my community as a volunteer. I was trained in sexual and reproductive health issues, and in the technique of injecting (contraceptives)”, says Juana Margoth. Through the community-based Pro-Family Health Promoter program, the Salvadoran Demographic Association (ADS / Pro-Familia) has been providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to local communities since 1974. Today, the program currently has around 900 health promoters across El Salvador. Reaching under-served communities with contraceptive care and information lies at the heart of the program’s mission. In the absence of healthcare from the Ministry of Health in Hacienda El Edén, Sonsonate, Juana provides care to four villages in the surrounding area. “I make visits in the communities to the clients I already have, to see if they are okay with the (contraceptive) method and to receive new clients, sometimes even the same clients tell me that there is someone who needs a visit. I like that they look to me to help them. I give confidence to the clients, to their partners too, I have clients since 2, 5 or 6 years ago. (…) There is a lot of need, so I am here, until God wants it”, she says. Juana receives a quarterly supply of contraceptives that she distributes at low prices to the women in her community. “I like that women know that I am here to help them, also to give advice and understand each people's problem; (to help them) to plan their family, and I like the fact that they want to do it with me,” she says. Providing counseling to clients on contraceptive methods so that they understand the different types and can make an informed choice is a crucial part of her role. “In other places - she says - they only give the contraceptive methods to women and do not explain (it’s use)”. In addition to the community-based program, Pro-Familia supports the network of promoters to help respond to emergencies. When natural disasters occur, Pro-Familia conducts a survey of needs and responds with support for reconstruction and food supplies. “I have a lot to thank Pro-Familia for, I have learned and continue to learn with them, they are always there when I need to know something when I run out of contraceptives and without medications (for the program); I am also grateful because I have my prefabricated house thanks to Pro-Familia who helped me when the earthquake of 2001 happened”, she says. I feel confident with her Yaneth Aguilar knew Juana Margoth and felt confident in choosing the injectable as her preferred contraceptive method. “With my husband, we agreed to put myself in control with her, she is kind, and she pays attention. If she were not here, I would surely have two more children. I feel confident with her. I don't like going to the health unit, because I have to spend the whole day, and sometimes they don't treat me well." Veronica Moran also received contraceptive care and information from Juana. “Margoth has changed our life, mine and my family’s, I have been planning with her for 8 years, she is kind and always has the method I use. When I have doubts, I ask her with confidence, without shame, and I can go to her house at any time, she is always there. I don't like going to the health unit, because I spend a lot (of money), and sometimes they don't have contraceptives; nowadays, with the pandemic, we have her close and she never stopped treating me, it is very helpful in our community." Brenda Martinez has been a client of Juana’s for two years. “She is the person that we know has (contraceptive) methods in the community, where Pap tests to prevent cancer are done, where we buy medicines, where you can always ask. When I was born, she was already a promoter; I couldn't be in another place planning, she is a very good person, kind, and she is always helping us in whatever way.”

Blanca Edith Mendoza Ramos
story

| 04 March 2021

"I can always do something to help others"

When Blanca started as a volunteer, she committed to her new role with enthusiasm, thinking about how the women of La Loma village would benefit from being able to access contraceptive methods close to home. “Many women walk up to an hour and a half from the villages of the Guazapa hill, to receive family planning services or to receive counseling,” Blanca Edith Mendoza Ramos, 61, says proudly. Her house is a cozy and special place for the clients. “I have been a Pro-Familia volunteer for 29 years, when I started, I had already had my five children, I was busy at home, but when the Pro-Familia staff explained to me about working in my community, I trusted It was important to support women. I have learned a lot and I continue to do so, I have received training that helps me to be a better person, to have knowledge and to give good advice; I have received many people from Pro-Familia in these years, and always with great responsibility”, she says. To ensure her clients’ confidentiality, Blanca has created a private room with a sofa where she provides counseling and administers injectable contraceptive methods. By creating a private space, Blanca has built up trust in the community and women prefer to go to her for contraception and advice. “I am proud to help in my community, I visit clients to see if they have any side effects when they do not come to receive their method, or to know if they are well or to recruit new clients who are encouraged to use a family planning method because their families are already very large”, comments Blanqui, as she is known in her community. The public health facility provides free healthcare, however, women from other local communities prefer to see Blanca because she is closer and offers confidential personalized care. “The Health Unit is not close, so women prefer to plan with me, they come with confidence to apply their method. On their first visit, I ask them a few questions about their health, and if everything is okay, they plan with me. I think that family planning is important for the spacing of the children and that it is not only the use of methods but also communication with the couple”, reflects Blanca. The poverty and patriarchy in these communities present many challenges, including domestic violence, multiple partners, and miscarriage that require a sensitive approach to provision of healthcare and information. Volunteers like Blanca are supported to deal with these challenges through training provided by the Community-Based Program staff. Volunteers develop skills to use referral systems, coordinate with local institutions, such as the Ministry of Public Health, other NGOs, such as the Feminist Women's Collective, the Institute for Research, Training, and Development of Women (IMU), which provide support for cases of violence or care in cases of miscarriage. This approach is integral to the provision of healthcare and support in the communities. The team of volunteers helps to reduce violence and femicides in order to improve the quality of life for women and families. “People in the community tell me that they are grateful for the care I give them, and I will continue to change what I can to improve people's lives. I will continue to make home visits, give counseling because it is a need, women need someone that understands them and helps them. Pro-Familia is part of my life, being a volunteer is something special, I have learned a lot, and the most important thing is that I can help others”, says Blanca. Respect and comfort Blanca is often recommended by her clients. María Ofelia, or Felita, as she likes to be called, comments that “a friend from the community recommended that I visit the Blanqui, I already had two children, one 4-years-old and another 11-year-old. I still remember with deep sadness the moment I looked for her, it was my last pregnancy, and I lost my daughter. Blanqui received me with affection, respect, and comfort, she understood what I was going through, she guided me, and I made the decision to plan until now. I’ve been using the two-month injection for 4 years." María Ofelia says that although she can go to the social security check-up, she prefers to go to Blanca because of the confidence she gives her, “she always takes care of me, and the prices are low, I can pay it, because in other places the methods (contraceptives) are more expensive.”

Blanca Edith Mendoza Ramos
story

| 30 June 2022

"I can always do something to help others"

When Blanca started as a volunteer, she committed to her new role with enthusiasm, thinking about how the women of La Loma village would benefit from being able to access contraceptive methods close to home. “Many women walk up to an hour and a half from the villages of the Guazapa hill, to receive family planning services or to receive counseling,” Blanca Edith Mendoza Ramos, 61, says proudly. Her house is a cozy and special place for the clients. “I have been a Pro-Familia volunteer for 29 years, when I started, I had already had my five children, I was busy at home, but when the Pro-Familia staff explained to me about working in my community, I trusted It was important to support women. I have learned a lot and I continue to do so, I have received training that helps me to be a better person, to have knowledge and to give good advice; I have received many people from Pro-Familia in these years, and always with great responsibility”, she says. To ensure her clients’ confidentiality, Blanca has created a private room with a sofa where she provides counseling and administers injectable contraceptive methods. By creating a private space, Blanca has built up trust in the community and women prefer to go to her for contraception and advice. “I am proud to help in my community, I visit clients to see if they have any side effects when they do not come to receive their method, or to know if they are well or to recruit new clients who are encouraged to use a family planning method because their families are already very large”, comments Blanqui, as she is known in her community. The public health facility provides free healthcare, however, women from other local communities prefer to see Blanca because she is closer and offers confidential personalized care. “The Health Unit is not close, so women prefer to plan with me, they come with confidence to apply their method. On their first visit, I ask them a few questions about their health, and if everything is okay, they plan with me. I think that family planning is important for the spacing of the children and that it is not only the use of methods but also communication with the couple”, reflects Blanca. The poverty and patriarchy in these communities present many challenges, including domestic violence, multiple partners, and miscarriage that require a sensitive approach to provision of healthcare and information. Volunteers like Blanca are supported to deal with these challenges through training provided by the Community-Based Program staff. Volunteers develop skills to use referral systems, coordinate with local institutions, such as the Ministry of Public Health, other NGOs, such as the Feminist Women's Collective, the Institute for Research, Training, and Development of Women (IMU), which provide support for cases of violence or care in cases of miscarriage. This approach is integral to the provision of healthcare and support in the communities. The team of volunteers helps to reduce violence and femicides in order to improve the quality of life for women and families. “People in the community tell me that they are grateful for the care I give them, and I will continue to change what I can to improve people's lives. I will continue to make home visits, give counseling because it is a need, women need someone that understands them and helps them. Pro-Familia is part of my life, being a volunteer is something special, I have learned a lot, and the most important thing is that I can help others”, says Blanca. Respect and comfort Blanca is often recommended by her clients. María Ofelia, or Felita, as she likes to be called, comments that “a friend from the community recommended that I visit the Blanqui, I already had two children, one 4-years-old and another 11-year-old. I still remember with deep sadness the moment I looked for her, it was my last pregnancy, and I lost my daughter. Blanqui received me with affection, respect, and comfort, she understood what I was going through, she guided me, and I made the decision to plan until now. I’ve been using the two-month injection for 4 years." María Ofelia says that although she can go to the social security check-up, she prefers to go to Blanca because of the confidence she gives her, “she always takes care of me, and the prices are low, I can pay it, because in other places the methods (contraceptives) are more expensive.”