In March 2011, a delegation of the Action for Health in the Americas (AHA) board of directors spent four days in Santiago and Concepción visiting EPES and seeing the work they are doing. The delegation was made up of Sheila Dauer (New York) Melanie Nelson (Minnesota) Meghan Ochal (Washington, DC) and Dale Young (Miami), who are four of the 11 US-based members of AHA.
The most important part of our short visit (from March 23 to 27t), was the chance to see firsthand the wonderful work of EPES, especially its earthquake/tsunami recovery work, and to make a soul connection with EPES staff and those they work with.
EPES continues to work tirelessly in Santiago with health monitors. At the same time, it works intensively in Concepción with hundreds of families who lost everything in the tsunami that followed the February 2010 earthquake. It was thrilling to meet women who have become leaders in rebuilding their communities and livelihoods. They use EPES’ fundamental philosophy of finding ways to improve the situation through their own knowledge, ideas and efforts. Where they need more information, they are participating in workshops to add techniques and skills to their repertoire of products from the sea. But it was clear to us that full recovery is many years away.
The trip also gave the four of us the opportunity to meet and interact with each other and to spend valuable time with the EPES board and the staffs in Santiago and Concepción. We forged strong bonds that will help us communicate, collaborate and go forward, both within AHA, and between AHA and EPES
Seeing the work for ourselves and brainstorming together has given us plenty of ideas for how AHA can continue to (and increase) its support for EPES over the next few years. Our discussions of immediate options for fundraising and exciting ideas for celebrating the 30th anniversary of EPES in Chile and the U.S. in 2012 have energized us for the future! Stay tuned for more details.