"I am a volunteer health promoter by inheritance. First, my mother volunteered with Pro-Familia for 15 years, when she resigned to go to the United States. I learned to volunteer when I was little, because I saw how my mother did it", Alicia recalls.
The community spent some years without a volunteer health promoter after Alicia’s mother left. During that time, women came to Alicia to encourage her to contact the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña’s (ADS/Pro-Familia)to bring back the programme to the Santo Domingo village, 90 minutes outside of San Salvador.
In the absence of a local public health facility, Alicia decided to become a Pro-Familia volunteer 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, counselling, home visits and the use of brochures, and I also learned to inject."
Changing people’s lives
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 counselling is a crucial 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 change it very often. 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. 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."
Alicia dreams of having a larger place for her clients, or to 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 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."
Ensuring trust and confidence
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."