"I started as a Pro-Family Health Promoter 30 years ago. I received a visit from Pro-Familia staff on several occasions and I was very interested in what I could do to help in my community as a volunteer, so I accepted. I was trained in sexual and reproductive health issues, and in the technique of injecting [contraceptives]", says Juana Margoth.
Since 1974, the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña (ADS/Pro-Familia), has been providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to marginalized communities in rural and peri-urban areas. Through their Pro-Family Health Promoter and community-based programme, the Pro-Familia teams provide information and contraceptive care and supplies to vulnerable populations. Today, the programme has around 900 health promoters throughout El Salvador.
Building relationships and trust
Juana Margoth is one of these health promoters who provides care across four local villages in Hacienda El Edén, in Sonsonate, where the Ministry of Health does not have a presence.
"I like that women know that I am here to help them, also to give advice and understand each person's problem; [to help them] to plan their family, and I like the fact that they want to do it with me," she says.
She receives a quarterly supply of contraceptives that she distributes at low prices to the women in her community.
"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 two, five or six years ago. There is a lot of need, so I am here, until God wants it."
Providing contraceptive advice
Juana Margoth also highlights the importance of guiding women and men, providing counselling to clients so that they understand the different methods and contraception, and how to use it: "In other places they only give the contraceptive methods to women and do not explain [on its use]."
Veronica has been a regular client of Juana Margoth’s for eight years, receiving counselling and contraceptives.
"Margoth has changed our life, mine and my family’s, I have been planning with her for eight 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 it costs a lot of money, and sometimes they don't have contraceptives; nowadays, with the pandemic, we have Margoth close and she never stopped treating me, it is very helpful in our community."
Responding to humanitarian disasters
As well as the community-based programme, Pro-Familia supports the network of volunteer promoter's humanitarian crises, such as natural disasters. Pro-Familia conducts a survey of needs and responds with support for reconstruction, healthcare, and food security.
"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, several years ago."