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Latest stories from IPPF

Spotlight

A selection of stories from across the Federation

Humanitarian response team, Fiji.
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In pictures: Humanitarian photographers share their experiences of storytelling in the field

IPPF’s localized approach to humanitarian emergencies is led by our Member Associations' response teams and whenever possible, we deploy local photographers.
Volunteer
story

| 19 May 2021

"I changed first...so can other men"

"One day, when I returned from work, Ms. Glenda and Mr. Martin from 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.  In 2008, the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña (Pro-Familia) developed a project focusing on sexual and reproductive health and the active participation of men in rural areas. It concentrated specifically on the integration of male participation in sexual and reproductive healthcare. Since 2014, the project has been integrated into the Community-Based Programme as part of the provision of healthcare for rural men.  "When I gave the talks on masculinities, they questioned me: 'Why can't you scream at home, if you're the man?' Or 'who do 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. 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."  Ensuring access to information and contraception   Educational activities in sexual and reproductive health remain a challenge, but Pro-Familia is committed to delivering their strategy. The role of the health promoter is to advocate – with other men – the use of contraception, counselling couples, and providing 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, on family planning, and how not to be violent", says José. "Older adult men are more difficult to change."  Increasing contraceptive use among men   José has seen the positive change among men in his 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."  The Community-Based Program has a special fund for clients who are referred by promoters for a voluntary surgical contraception (VSC) procedure, so the service is free of charge for clients. In this regard, 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' [marital union] at an early age. 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. 

Volunteer
story

| 26 May 2022

"I changed first...so can other men"

"One day, when I returned from work, Ms. Glenda and Mr. Martin from 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.  In 2008, the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña (Pro-Familia) developed a project focusing on sexual and reproductive health and the active participation of men in rural areas. It concentrated specifically on the integration of male participation in sexual and reproductive healthcare. Since 2014, the project has been integrated into the Community-Based Programme as part of the provision of healthcare for rural men.  "When I gave the talks on masculinities, they questioned me: 'Why can't you scream at home, if you're the man?' Or 'who do 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. 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."  Ensuring access to information and contraception   Educational activities in sexual and reproductive health remain a challenge, but Pro-Familia is committed to delivering their strategy. The role of the health promoter is to advocate – with other men – the use of contraception, counselling couples, and providing 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, on family planning, and how not to be violent", says José. "Older adult men are more difficult to change."  Increasing contraceptive use among men   José has seen the positive change among men in his 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."  The Community-Based Program has a special fund for clients who are referred by promoters for a voluntary surgical contraception (VSC) procedure, so the service is free of charge for clients. In this regard, 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' [marital union] at an early age. 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. 

Volunteer
story

| 19 May 2021

Talking about contraceptive choice on the soccer field

"I decided to become a volunteer at Pro-Familia when I heard a talk the staff were 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 Leon is a volunteer with the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña (ADS/Pro-Familia) community-based programme. Juan’s remit is broad, working mainly with men to provide information on contraceptive methods and counselling to individuals and couples. He also provides contraceptive methods including the Pill, injectables and, especially, condoms. For some hormonal contraceptive methods, Juan refers his clients to Pro-Familia clinics or other public health facilities. Putting community first "I like to work for my community, despite the difficulties, and I help in four more communities for them to have the [contraceptive] methods and medicines, because they come to get me," 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." Juan visits clients at home and organizes talks – mainly with other men – to promote the importance of contraceptive use, and women and children's health. The importance of men’s health and their family group is a key element in Juan's role as a health promoter. “I like providing family planning counselling, 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] no longer requests the method secretly – although there are still some women who hide from their husbands. That's why we have to continue working on counselling, that's what awakens them." Changing behaviour and attitudes Juan runs informative talks on reproductive health and the prevention of STIs and HIV. "In some talks, some men have come out angry and questioned me. Who am I to tell those things? ‘Someone who has learned and who respects people's rights,’ I tell them. Now men come to ask for condoms, and even my wife confidently gives the condoms to them. She also supports me." Some men thank Juan for having "awakened their minds", and encouraged 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 in 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.”

Volunteer
story

| 26 May 2022

Talking about contraceptive choice on the soccer field

"I decided to become a volunteer at Pro-Familia when I heard a talk the staff were 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 Leon is a volunteer with the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña (ADS/Pro-Familia) community-based programme. Juan’s remit is broad, working mainly with men to provide information on contraceptive methods and counselling to individuals and couples. He also provides contraceptive methods including the Pill, injectables and, especially, condoms. For some hormonal contraceptive methods, Juan refers his clients to Pro-Familia clinics or other public health facilities. Putting community first "I like to work for my community, despite the difficulties, and I help in four more communities for them to have the [contraceptive] methods and medicines, because they come to get me," 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." Juan visits clients at home and organizes talks – mainly with other men – to promote the importance of contraceptive use, and women and children's health. The importance of men’s health and their family group is a key element in Juan's role as a health promoter. “I like providing family planning counselling, 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] no longer requests the method secretly – although there are still some women who hide from their husbands. That's why we have to continue working on counselling, that's what awakens them." Changing behaviour and attitudes Juan runs informative talks on reproductive health and the prevention of STIs and HIV. "In some talks, some men have come out angry and questioned me. Who am I to tell those things? ‘Someone who has learned and who respects people's rights,’ I tell them. Now men come to ask for condoms, and even my wife confidently gives the condoms to them. She also supports me." Some men thank Juan for having "awakened their minds", and encouraged 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 in 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.”

Volunteer
story

| 19 May 2021

"I am for my community"

"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."

Volunteer
story

| 26 May 2022

"I am for my community"

"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."

Volunteer
story

| 19 May 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.  Elga is one of the Community Health Workers in the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña’s (Pro-Familia) Community-Based Program team. She remembers that when she first started her training, she felt that her role was small and unimportant – but over the 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."  Sharing knowledge and experience   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 counselling.  "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 counselling, 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."  Communities benefit from access to care  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 counselling and a referral so that she could come to the 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," Elga says with joy.  She also remembers the first time she suggested a vasectomy to a client. "First, I made the reference to the women client, but because of health reasons she could not be sterilized, and she was very sad because using hormonal methods also affected her health. So I decided to give counselling to the client's partner, who agreed to a vasectomy. The intervention was successful, and he is well, and 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 to improve the lives of individuals and families remain a vital focus. Counselling 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 to bring about positive change for the future. 

Volunteer
story

| 26 May 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.  Elga is one of the Community Health Workers in the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña’s (Pro-Familia) Community-Based Program team. She remembers that when she first started her training, she felt that her role was small and unimportant – but over the 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."  Sharing knowledge and experience   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 counselling.  "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 counselling, 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."  Communities benefit from access to care  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 counselling and a referral so that she could come to the 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," Elga says with joy.  She also remembers the first time she suggested a vasectomy to a client. "First, I made the reference to the women client, but because of health reasons she could not be sterilized, and she was very sad because using hormonal methods also affected her health. So I decided to give counselling to the client's partner, who agreed to a vasectomy. The intervention was successful, and he is well, and 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 to improve the lives of individuals and families remain a vital focus. Counselling 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 to bring about positive change for the future. 

Volunteer
story

| 19 May 2021

"Being a volunteer is my inheritance"

"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." 

Volunteer
story

| 26 May 2022

"Being a volunteer is my inheritance"

"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." 

Blanca talks to a client
story

| 19 May 2021

"I can always do something to help others"

When Blanca started volunteering with the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña’s (ADS/Pro-Familia), she committed to her new role with enthusiasm. Her thoughts were 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 counselling," 61-year-old Blanca Edith Mendoza Ramos says proudly.   Her house is a cosy 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.  A confidential and cosy place    To ensure her clients’ confidentiality, Blanca has created a private room with a sofa where she provides counselling 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, 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." Although the public health facility provides free healthcare, 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. 

Blanca talks to a client
story

| 26 May 2022

"I can always do something to help others"

When Blanca started volunteering with the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña’s (ADS/Pro-Familia), she committed to her new role with enthusiasm. Her thoughts were 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 counselling," 61-year-old Blanca Edith Mendoza Ramos says proudly.   Her house is a cosy 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.  A confidential and cosy place    To ensure her clients’ confidentiality, Blanca has created a private room with a sofa where she provides counselling 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, 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." Although the public health facility provides free healthcare, 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. 

Volunteer
story

| 19 May 2021

"I changed first...so can other men"

"One day, when I returned from work, Ms. Glenda and Mr. Martin from 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.  In 2008, the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña (Pro-Familia) developed a project focusing on sexual and reproductive health and the active participation of men in rural areas. It concentrated specifically on the integration of male participation in sexual and reproductive healthcare. Since 2014, the project has been integrated into the Community-Based Programme as part of the provision of healthcare for rural men.  "When I gave the talks on masculinities, they questioned me: 'Why can't you scream at home, if you're the man?' Or 'who do 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. 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."  Ensuring access to information and contraception   Educational activities in sexual and reproductive health remain a challenge, but Pro-Familia is committed to delivering their strategy. The role of the health promoter is to advocate – with other men – the use of contraception, counselling couples, and providing 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, on family planning, and how not to be violent", says José. "Older adult men are more difficult to change."  Increasing contraceptive use among men   José has seen the positive change among men in his 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."  The Community-Based Program has a special fund for clients who are referred by promoters for a voluntary surgical contraception (VSC) procedure, so the service is free of charge for clients. In this regard, 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' [marital union] at an early age. 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. 

Volunteer
story

| 26 May 2022

"I changed first...so can other men"

"One day, when I returned from work, Ms. Glenda and Mr. Martin from 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.  In 2008, the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña (Pro-Familia) developed a project focusing on sexual and reproductive health and the active participation of men in rural areas. It concentrated specifically on the integration of male participation in sexual and reproductive healthcare. Since 2014, the project has been integrated into the Community-Based Programme as part of the provision of healthcare for rural men.  "When I gave the talks on masculinities, they questioned me: 'Why can't you scream at home, if you're the man?' Or 'who do 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. 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."  Ensuring access to information and contraception   Educational activities in sexual and reproductive health remain a challenge, but Pro-Familia is committed to delivering their strategy. The role of the health promoter is to advocate – with other men – the use of contraception, counselling couples, and providing 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, on family planning, and how not to be violent", says José. "Older adult men are more difficult to change."  Increasing contraceptive use among men   José has seen the positive change among men in his 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."  The Community-Based Program has a special fund for clients who are referred by promoters for a voluntary surgical contraception (VSC) procedure, so the service is free of charge for clients. In this regard, 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' [marital union] at an early age. 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. 

Volunteer
story

| 19 May 2021

Talking about contraceptive choice on the soccer field

"I decided to become a volunteer at Pro-Familia when I heard a talk the staff were 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 Leon is a volunteer with the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña (ADS/Pro-Familia) community-based programme. Juan’s remit is broad, working mainly with men to provide information on contraceptive methods and counselling to individuals and couples. He also provides contraceptive methods including the Pill, injectables and, especially, condoms. For some hormonal contraceptive methods, Juan refers his clients to Pro-Familia clinics or other public health facilities. Putting community first "I like to work for my community, despite the difficulties, and I help in four more communities for them to have the [contraceptive] methods and medicines, because they come to get me," 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." Juan visits clients at home and organizes talks – mainly with other men – to promote the importance of contraceptive use, and women and children's health. The importance of men’s health and their family group is a key element in Juan's role as a health promoter. “I like providing family planning counselling, 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] no longer requests the method secretly – although there are still some women who hide from their husbands. That's why we have to continue working on counselling, that's what awakens them." Changing behaviour and attitudes Juan runs informative talks on reproductive health and the prevention of STIs and HIV. "In some talks, some men have come out angry and questioned me. Who am I to tell those things? ‘Someone who has learned and who respects people's rights,’ I tell them. Now men come to ask for condoms, and even my wife confidently gives the condoms to them. She also supports me." Some men thank Juan for having "awakened their minds", and encouraged 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 in 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.”

Volunteer
story

| 26 May 2022

Talking about contraceptive choice on the soccer field

"I decided to become a volunteer at Pro-Familia when I heard a talk the staff were 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 Leon is a volunteer with the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña (ADS/Pro-Familia) community-based programme. Juan’s remit is broad, working mainly with men to provide information on contraceptive methods and counselling to individuals and couples. He also provides contraceptive methods including the Pill, injectables and, especially, condoms. For some hormonal contraceptive methods, Juan refers his clients to Pro-Familia clinics or other public health facilities. Putting community first "I like to work for my community, despite the difficulties, and I help in four more communities for them to have the [contraceptive] methods and medicines, because they come to get me," 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." Juan visits clients at home and organizes talks – mainly with other men – to promote the importance of contraceptive use, and women and children's health. The importance of men’s health and their family group is a key element in Juan's role as a health promoter. “I like providing family planning counselling, 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] no longer requests the method secretly – although there are still some women who hide from their husbands. That's why we have to continue working on counselling, that's what awakens them." Changing behaviour and attitudes Juan runs informative talks on reproductive health and the prevention of STIs and HIV. "In some talks, some men have come out angry and questioned me. Who am I to tell those things? ‘Someone who has learned and who respects people's rights,’ I tell them. Now men come to ask for condoms, and even my wife confidently gives the condoms to them. She also supports me." Some men thank Juan for having "awakened their minds", and encouraged 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 in 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.”

Volunteer
story

| 19 May 2021

"I am for my community"

"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."

Volunteer
story

| 26 May 2022

"I am for my community"

"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."

Volunteer
story

| 19 May 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.  Elga is one of the Community Health Workers in the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña’s (Pro-Familia) Community-Based Program team. She remembers that when she first started her training, she felt that her role was small and unimportant – but over the 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."  Sharing knowledge and experience   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 counselling.  "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 counselling, 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."  Communities benefit from access to care  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 counselling and a referral so that she could come to the 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," Elga says with joy.  She also remembers the first time she suggested a vasectomy to a client. "First, I made the reference to the women client, but because of health reasons she could not be sterilized, and she was very sad because using hormonal methods also affected her health. So I decided to give counselling to the client's partner, who agreed to a vasectomy. The intervention was successful, and he is well, and 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 to improve the lives of individuals and families remain a vital focus. Counselling 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 to bring about positive change for the future. 

Volunteer
story

| 26 May 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.  Elga is one of the Community Health Workers in the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña’s (Pro-Familia) Community-Based Program team. She remembers that when she first started her training, she felt that her role was small and unimportant – but over the 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."  Sharing knowledge and experience   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 counselling.  "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 counselling, 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."  Communities benefit from access to care  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 counselling and a referral so that she could come to the 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," Elga says with joy.  She also remembers the first time she suggested a vasectomy to a client. "First, I made the reference to the women client, but because of health reasons she could not be sterilized, and she was very sad because using hormonal methods also affected her health. So I decided to give counselling to the client's partner, who agreed to a vasectomy. The intervention was successful, and he is well, and 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 to improve the lives of individuals and families remain a vital focus. Counselling 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 to bring about positive change for the future. 

Volunteer
story

| 19 May 2021

"Being a volunteer is my inheritance"

"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." 

Volunteer
story

| 26 May 2022

"Being a volunteer is my inheritance"

"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." 

Blanca talks to a client
story

| 19 May 2021

"I can always do something to help others"

When Blanca started volunteering with the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña’s (ADS/Pro-Familia), she committed to her new role with enthusiasm. Her thoughts were 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 counselling," 61-year-old Blanca Edith Mendoza Ramos says proudly.   Her house is a cosy 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.  A confidential and cosy place    To ensure her clients’ confidentiality, Blanca has created a private room with a sofa where she provides counselling 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, 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." Although the public health facility provides free healthcare, 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. 

Blanca talks to a client
story

| 26 May 2022

"I can always do something to help others"

When Blanca started volunteering with the Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña’s (ADS/Pro-Familia), she committed to her new role with enthusiasm. Her thoughts were 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 counselling," 61-year-old Blanca Edith Mendoza Ramos says proudly.   Her house is a cosy 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.  A confidential and cosy place    To ensure her clients’ confidentiality, Blanca has created a private room with a sofa where she provides counselling 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, 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." Although the public health facility provides free healthcare, 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.